Microsoft Ships Third MS CRM Patch

Patch turns off an email tracking feature that a few customers complained about.

Microsoft Corp. on Friday released a patch for its recently released Microsoft CRM application suite, allowing users to turn off a feature that some had found to be more of a hindrance than a help.

The patch, the third issued for MS CRM since it shipped in late January, involves a feature called the "generated unique ID" or GUID. The GUID is a reference number attached to e-mail messages sent by the system so salespeople can associate the message with the correct customer and identify e-mail threads.

While Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., had seen this feature as a benefit with the idea that it would add context to customer contacts and relate connected e-mail trails to give the salesperson the so-called "360-degree view" of the customer, some early adopters found the feature to be more of a drawback. One example showed a GUID approximately 40 characters long, combining random numbers, letters and hyphens.

Users who complained said that the GUIDs made e-mail subject lines look unprofessional and confusing and distracting to customers. They also complained that the GUIDs made e-mails vulnerable to spam filters, which are often set to block e-mails with random characters in the subject line. Microsoft officials said that in their own testing, the GUIDs did not trip spam filters.

"We think its a useful feature, but weve heard from customers who dont care for it, so were going to let them turn it off if they want to," said Alex Simons, product unit manager for Microsoft CRM at Microsofts Business Solutions Group.

Simons said that only two customers had formally complained about the GUID.

The latest patch was the third Microsoft has released for MS CRM. The first shipped just after the release of the product in January and fixed a flaw in the Microsoft CRM for Outlook client, which made the product vulnerable to the slammer virus. The company plans to ship an updated version of the client with the patch already incorporated in April.

The second patch also came out shortly after the product shipped and was to restore access to some areas of the workflow screen that were inaccessible in the original version.