Microsoft Gives Dynamics Apps Office Makeover

Microsoft releases GP 10 and SL 7 of its accounting applications and takes the first step into Wave 2 of Dynamics' convergence.

Microsoft has reached the halfway point in its long march to converge its four separate Enterprise Resource Planning suites into a common technology platform.

But its still an open question whether this now three-year-long campaign will deliver a fully converged suite that will hold its own in the midsize market that SAP and Oracle also covet.

Microsofts Business Solutions achieved a major milestone when it released the next iterations of two of the companys four business application suites, GP 10 and SL 7 June 18.

Both suites sport a new Office-like user interface, integration with Office 2007, Web services enablement and a common business portal architecture with a move over to SharePoint Server code.

The upgrades complete Wave 1 of the two-wave process of converging Microsofts four separate ERP (enterprise resource planning) suites.

The question is, Now that Microsoft is ready to move to Wave 2 in an increasingly convoluted ERP road map—first it planned to converge the four code bases; now it will converge the suites through a common platform—are customers looking forward to the evolution? Edward Lux, vice president of technology at, is.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about a quiet reshuffling of the Microsoft Dynamics executive team.

"For me its great," said Lux, in Belleview, Wash. "I dont have to look at a day where I am told I have to jump the gorge to get to the other side; what [Microsoft] is going to do is support the other side. [Project Green] would have been, On this date we turn the lights out—either join us or youre done. Microsoft realizes thats not going to work."

Project Green, the early code name for the suites convergence, was a two-wave plan to rewrite Microsofts four ERP suites—GP, NAV, SL, and AX—into a single code base.

At its last Convergence user conference in March, Microsoft officials confirmed that the company will likely not move to a single code base—the initial plan for Wave 2—but rather would converge the suites through a common underlying technology stack including SQL Server, Visual Studio .Net, BizTalk Server, Workflow Foundation and other server technologies.

"What we went out and said two years ago is that we would go out and converge the product, and that was the priority No. 1 for Dynamics. We dont see that as a priority any more," said Mogens Munkholm Elsberg, general manager for Microsoft NAV and AX, during a March 13 interview with eWEEK.

"We think that over time we will add technology to the products that will be similar—like the SharePoint integration, like Web services, like the UI. … It doesnt make them one code base, but it does make them closer to one another."

Lux is happy to see that Microsoft has wavered on its plans with Wave 2. "What I am seeing happen is the brilliance of how one could achieve the convergence of four ERP solutions into a single solution without disorienting the customer, or causing strife within the customer base," he said. "What were seeing is the concept of role-based dashboards. It doesnt matter what suite youre using; in the end they all start looking about the same."

Next Page: Dynamics moves to .Net.