Slated to arrive after the new year, Microsoft Business Solutions CRM 1.2 is a minor upgrade over its current 1.0 offering.
A Microsoft spokesman said CRM 1.2 adds increased functionality with new data evaluation and lead tracking improvements, as well as improvements to its user interface and the ability to customize the sales function within Outlook.
The upgrade also lets companies use CRM in conjunction with Windows Server System 2003, Exchange Server 2003 and Small Business Server 2003.
As the enterprise software market continues to mature at the Fortune 1000 level, more and more software makers like Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft are looking for new ground to cover. One of the largest unconquered sectors for these applications is the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) space.
Microsoft, with the popularity it enjoys through the Office product line, has become one of the few U.S. software companies who are positioned to capture a significant share of the SMB market. Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank praised Microsoft for being one of the first large software companies to cater to SMBs.
Other companies have redesigned their enterprise-class corporate products to accommodate SMBs. Since the announcement of its first Express offering in November of last year, IBM's software group has launched more than a dozen new Express solutions for SMBs in 2003. Meanwhile, Oracle has tailored its 10g pgrogram to garner mid-market attention.
Microsoft plans to put an annual timetable on CRM platform upgrades, and will release CRM 2.0 in the first quarter of 2005.
While a Microsoft solution isn't always palatable with larger enterprises today who use both Microsoft's .NET and Java's J2EE Web services frameworks (Microsoft only supports .NET), the software giant is popular with SMBs throughout the U.S.
Adapted from internetnews.com.