Microsoft Releases Dynamics CRM Spring Update

Salesforce, who? Microsoft pushes out new updates to its Dynamics CRM software and cloud services suite.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and cloud

Microsoft on June 2 announced the availability of its Dynamics CRM Spring Update, shortly after the company announced a strategic partnership with Salesforce, the upstart cloud-based CRM specialist and former rival.

The release is a big milestone in his company's now-familiar cloud-first strategy, according to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. In a statement, he described the sweeping changes to Dynamics CRM "as an important component of the Microsoft Cloud for business."

"Through innovative business applications in the cloud, businesses can better meet their customers' needs and thrive in a changing world," added Nadella.

The Spring Update includes the rollout of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Social Listening. Dynamics Marketing provides campaign tracking and planning tools backed by marketing automation and business intelligence technology acquired in the MarketingPilot buy of 2012.

Microsoft Social Listening, based on the March 2013 acquisition of NetBreeze, delivers real-time social media monitoring and analytics. The add-on, available for both the on-premise and cloud-based Dynamics Online solutions, provides marketers with insights on the sentiment surrounding their brands, and that of the competition, on social media.

To streamline workflows for customer service agents, Microsoft has incorporated a new Unified Service Desk into the Dynamics CRM user interface (UI). The configurable feature assembles several functions into one UI, eliminating the need to jump between views.

"We focused our development efforts on understanding what our customers need to deliver amazing customer experiences," Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, said in a statement. The update also represents Microsoft's accelerated cadence of software and cloud services releases.

"We redesigned our user interface, implemented a six-month rapid release cycle, made three acquisitions and built many new features—all culminating in the wave of releases we are bringing to market today," said Stutz.

In addition, Dynamics CRM Online is expanding into new markets. This month, the product is launching in Turkey, to be followed by additional regions in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and South America in the third quarter, announced Microsoft.

Microsoft caused a stir last week when the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker announced that it is teaming up with its rival, Salesforce, on apps and cloud services that promise seamless interoperability between their respective ecosystems. The deal includes Office 365 integration and native Salesforce1 apps for Windows devices.

During a May 29 conference call for press and analysts, Nadella said that the partnership will "empower people to use Office 365 and Salesforce seamlessly together, whether it's sharing Office documents in Salesforce1 or analyzing CRM data in Power BI for Office 365." Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said the impetus for the deal boiled down to customer demand.

Benioff said customers "want to work with all of Microsoft's apps, and they want to be able to work with Salesforce." As part of the deal, he added that his company will leverage Azure, Microsoft's cloud, and up its investment in SQL server.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...