Microsoft is going beyond challenging Salesforce.com in court: the IT giant announced during its Worldwide Partner Conference that it will introduce a Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace, a repository of applications for Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers, in September. The platform seems designed to counter Salesforce.com's recently announced AppExchange2, the cloud-based service provider's enterprise-application storefront.
Microsoft made the announcement while unveiling Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, formerly dubbed "CRM5," whose beta launch is expected this September.
"This new online catalog will provide an easy way for partners to market and distribute solutions to Microsoft Dynamics customers," Umran Hasan, a spokesperson for Microsoft, wrote in a July 12 posting on The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blog. "The marketplace will allow customers to quickly search, discover and apply industry-specific applications and solution extensions from Microsoft and its partners to help them accelerate and extend their CRM and ERP implementations."
Users will be able to search for new applications from directly within the CRM platform, and theoretically enhancing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011's touted ability to create, package and distribute Microsoft Dynamics CRM extensions and solutions.
Features on offer in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 include the ability to create and share inline charts with drill-down intelligence, configure multiple real-time dashboards to monitor business performance, track progress against a variety of organizational goals and metrics, and create step-by-step guidance for business processes.
In addition, organizations with Microsoft SharePoint Server can provision SharePoint document repositories, and embed directly within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.
Microsoft also announced at the WPC that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be made available in 40 markets and 41 languages by the end of 2010, after a beta release in September alongside the on-premises version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Developers will have the ability to deploy custom code for Microsoft Dynamics Online via Microsoft Visual Studio.
"Going forward we're going to release online first. That's a move we're making," Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, told eWEEK in a WPC interview July 13. "It's easier for us, as we don't need to test multiple configurations, to release first to online."
Microsoft is also increasing the partner margins for online CRM, to 40 percent for first-year contract revenue.
Microsoft previously released the third Community Technology Preview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 on March 25. The company has been positioning the offering as an alternative to products by cloud-based vendors such as Salesforce.com, with whom Microsoft is currently engaged in a fierce series of intellectual-property lawsuits.
Although Microsoft Dynamics CRM has traditionally been focused on customer relationship management within a business context, Microsoft has issued a version of the platform for nonprofits and non-governmental organizations, with additional tools such as donation and pledge management, basic membership management, basic volunteer tracking, support for online payment solutions and campaign management.