Microsoft Details the Greening of Great Plains

Redmond is readying multiple first- and second-wave releases of its ERP suite, starting with a new update due later in March.

SAN DIEGO—Microsoft officials are expending a lot of energy at the companys annual Microsoft Business Solutions Convergence customer conference here trying to explain the changes in the companys "Project Green" strategy.

Project Green is the code name for MBS strategy for moving its business applications to a common code base—and possibly combining them into a single, best-of-breed suite.

At this weeks conference, Microsoft changed its definition of Green, now using it to refer to the path and process via which this evolution happens, rather than to the final uber-ERP suite itself.

The particulars as to how Microsoft plans to "Green" its existing MBS (Microsoft Business Solutions) applications are best understood in context of the roadmaps for Microsofts various product lines.

At Convergence, Microsoft officials outlined roadmaps for future releases of Great Plains, Navision, Solomon, Axapta, Microsoft CRM and other products.

In each case, the near-term releases are considered to be part of "Wave 1" of the Green initiative. The 2006-plus releases are considered part of Green "Wave 2."

As part of Wave 1, Microsoft has committed to deliver common "role-based user experiences" across its existing MBS family. It also will make SharePoint the common portal and workflow engine for the MBS products and surface SQL-Server-based "contextual business intelligence" across its MBS products.

Wave 2 will bring more commonality to the different MBS offerings. Microsoft expects to introduce with Wave 2 common, model-driven design processes; alignment with Longhorn, the Windows client release due in 2006; and alignment with Office 12, the version of Office due in 2006.

The Great Plains team is already well on its way to Greening the next few releases of its product, company officials here said Tuesday.

Great Plains "Extensions"—a feature pack add-on to Great Plains 8.0, which is due out in late March 2005—will offer some Green Wave 1 capabilities, said Jeff Young, general manager of Great Plains.

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