Microsoft Dynamics Waves Rolling In

Microsoft is steaming ahead-for the most part, on schedule-with its plans for next versions of its key ERP and CRM products. (Microsoft Watch)

DALLAS—Hold the presses: Microsofts Dynamics ERP and CRM products are rolling ahead (mostly) on schedule.

At the companys annual Convergence conference for Microsoft Business Solutions customers and partners here, Microsoft officials provided updated roadmaps through 2009 for its Microsoft Dynamics/AX (Axapta), Dynamics/GP (Great Plains), Dynamics/SL (Solomon), Dynamics/NAV (Navision) and Dynamics CRM products.

Microsoft is running slightly ahead of schedule with Dynamics/GP 10.0. Last year officials said to expect that release to ship in calendar 2008; now its looking like some time in 2007, officials said. And Microsoft is on track to deliver the next release of Axapta, Dynamics/AX 4.0, in June 2006. Last year, company officials said to expect the product to ship some time in the first half of 2006.

The next version of Navision, Dynamics/NAV 5.0, is due in March 2007, according to Microsoft. (Last year, officials were calculating a Q3 2006 delivery date.) And Dynamics/SL 7.0, the next release of Solomon, is due in the first half of 2007, compared to the "second half 2006" target officials set last year.

Microsoft CRM "Next"—which is expected to be Microsoft CRM 4.0, code-named "Titan"—is due in the first half of 2007, company officials said Sunday.

For the past couple of years, Microsoft has been moving toward providing a common ERP platform as part of its "Project Green" initiative, which is unfolding in two phases: the 2005 to 2007 Green Wave 1 and 2008 to 2009+ Green Wave 2.

As of this years Convergence conference, Microsoft is no longer talking about "Greening" its Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) stable. Instead, its all about bringing them into the common Dynamics fold, on the same, two-wave schedule. Company officials also are emphasizing this year that they will deliver iterative versions of the companys four ERP and one CRM applications over these various waves. At the unspecified end of Wave 2, Microsoft is expecting to introduce a single ERP offering that will incorporate the best-of-breed features from its existing offerings.

Microsofts goal is to make the consolidated ERP product look like the next version of any of the individual point products.

In the nearer term, Microsoft is moving to make its various ERP and CRM offerings look more and more alike. By the time the company ships Dynamics/NAV 5.0 in March of 2007, that client will sport a new interface that combines elements of Office 12, Windows Vista and Microsoft Business Solutions user-interface research. Microsoft will emulate that look and feel across all of its ERP and CRM products, going forward, said Mike Ehrenberg, an architect in Microsoft Business Solutions development.

"Weve been able to get great R&D sharing across all of our products," Ehrenberg told press and analysts attending a Q&A session at Convergence on Sunday. "The. Navision 5.0 client (will include the) same client features that will be in other products," like Great Plains 10.0."

Microsoft also is moving toward increased Dynamics commonality on the Web services, workflow and tools fronts, officials said.

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