The product, code-named "Microsoft CRM 2.0," originally was set to ship in 2004. Last year, Microsoft said it was delaying the CRM 2.0 release until the early part of 2005. Just a few weeks ago, company officials said the 2.0 release would be released to manufacturing in March 2005.
But on Thursday, Microsoft pushed back the RTM (release-to-manufacturing) date to sometime in the fourth calendar quarter of 2005. If the product RTMs late in the year, customers will be unlikely to see the final bits until early 2006.
According to Brad Wilson, the general manager of Microsofts CRM product management team, Microsoft gave partners and customers a choice of shipping the product in March as planned, or delaying its delivery in order to add new features. Among the features customers and partners requested were:
- Code to simplify the installation of Microsoft CRM 2.0 for small businesses. The result: Customers and partners will be able to install the product in five clicks or less. "We want to make it like other shrink-wrapped software" in terms of ease of installation, Wilson said.
- Improved "workflows," especially in the areas of marketing automation and service automation.
- More exposed APIs, making it easier for developers to build applications that embed and/or ride atop Microsoft CRM.
At the request of customers and partners, Microsoft also is expanding the geographic availability of the 2.0 release, adding localized support for Japanese, Chinese, Norwegian, Finnish and Iberian Portuguese languages.