Microsoft Redraws Its Biz App Roadmap

The company's Business Solutions unit has a new game plan for everything from "Project Green" to its next-generation ERP apps.

SAN DIEGO—Microsoft is rejiggering its roadmap for its family of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) ERP and CRM offerings.

At the annual MBS Convergence customer conference here, Microsoft executives on Monday outlined the latest roadmap for the companys Axapta, Great Plains, Navision, Solomon, Microsoft CRM and other related wares.

The biggest—and most confusing—change is around Microsofts Project Green. At last years Convergence show, Microsoft officials were not keen on talking about Green. This year, Microsofts MBS brass are delivering a new, evolutionary Green message and timetable.

The unified Green platform, as of last year, was slated to arrive by 2008. But now Microsoft isnt talking about a unified platform at all.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Project Green.

Instead, it is talking about two different Green "waves" via which it will make more of its existing ERP (enterprise resource planning) offerings look and work more similarly.

In Wave 1, which is "now," according to Microsoft Senior Vice President Doug Burgum, Microsoft will deliver a common "role-based user experience" 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, Burgum told attendees of his Monday Convergence kick-off keynote.

Wave 2, which Burgum characterized as "more of a next-year thing," will bring more commonality to the different MBS offerings. Microsoft expects to introduce with Wave 2 common model-drive design processes; alignment with Longhorn, the Windows client release due in 2006; and alignment with Office 12, the version of Office due in 2006.

Burgum said to expect Green Wave 1 to run from 2005 to 2007 and Wave 2 to run from 2008 to some unspecified future date. He did not provide any kind of date as to when the final, unified code base that originally was known as Green will ship.

Burgum told keynote attendees that Microsoft is extending the life-cycle support for its Axapta, Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Microsoft CRM applications from three years to five years.

That way, wherever Microsoft is in its upgrade cycle, customers can opt to stay with the versions of the MBS products that they have installed and worked with for a longer period of time.

At the same time, Burgum told keynote attendees to expect Microsoft to release upgrades of all four of its ERP lines by the latter half of 2006.

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