Microsoft released a new roadmap for its customer relationship management (CRM) products this week that will ultimately lead to much more frequent updates.
According to a post to the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Dynamics CRM Blog yesterday, one important change will be switching from major releases every three years to twice yearly updates one in the spring and one in the fall beginning this fall.
As described in what Microsoft refers to as a "statement of direction," the updates will cover both Microsoft's self-hosted and partner-hosted "online" version of Dynamics CRM as well as its "on-premises" version.
"Microsoft will release an 'automatic update' to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in Q4 of calendar 2011. There will be a 'scheduled update' to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in Q2 of calendar 2012," the post said.
In explaining the difference between them, the post said that that the automatic updates will take place all at once, while scheduled updates will give customers up to a year to deploy the updates.
Additionally, scheduled updates will be "larger in scope" than automatic updates.
The company will update the on-premises version of Dynamics CRM in the same time frames. However, it plans what it calls an "upgrade" rather than a scheduled update for the on-premises version in the second quarter of 2012.
"On-premises upgrades may incorporate significant Microsoft platform innovations (e.g., the next releases of Windows Server and desktop, .NET Framework, SQL Server, Office), while updates offer smaller scale new capabilities," the post said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to continue to provide Dynamics CRM both in online and on-premises offerings.
The company has also said that the online version will be available with Microsoft's Office 365 online replacement for its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) when it's released later this year.
That will include collaborative capabilities with other components of Office 365, such as SharePoint, Lync, and Office. Also coming to Dynamics CRM are ties to microblogging and social networking applications as well as "extended self-service business intelligence" tools and additional charts and business dashboards, according to the roadmap.
In addition, Dynamics CRM will support multiple form factors, including mobile devices, and also multiple browsers.
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Statement of Direction is available for download (as PDF).
For more on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, see A Closer Look at Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online