Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) today officially released the beta version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and announced the worldwide rollout of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online service from Microsoft's global data centers.
The customer relationship management (CRM) solution, available for both cloud-based and on-premises deployments, is Microsoft's latest attempt to gain ground on CRM market leaders Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and SAP (NYSE: SAP). Of the top five CRM vendors, only Microsoft and Salesforce gained significant market share from 2007 to 2009, according to Gartner.
The beta for the new CRM Online service will be available in eight languages and 36 markets, and the final version will be released by the end of the year in 40 markets and 41 languages, according to Microsoft. Dynamics CRM 2011 for on-premises and partner-hosted deployments will be available in 40 markets in eight languages. The beta can be found at www.crm2011beta.com, and a number of videos on the site highlight new product features.
The beta release includes close integration with Microsoft Outlook and reporting and visualization improvements.
New features include a next-generation native Microsoft Outlook client, Microsoft Office contextual CRM Ribbon for Office navigation and user experience, RoleTailored design and user personalization, according to Microsoft.
The software giant is also promising "intelligent experiences through guided process dialogs, inline data visualizations, performance and goal management, and real-time dashboards."
Cloud development, Windows Azure integration, contextual Microsoft SharePoint document repositories, teamwork and collaboration, and the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace are among the cloud features Microsoft hopes will enable it to better compete with cloud CRM leader Salesforce.com.
Microsoft also announced that the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace will enter beta later this month at no additional cost. The service "will provide an easy way for partners to market and distribute solutions to Microsoft Dynamics customers, including a catalog with more than 700 applications and professional services," the company said.
Customers will be able to access Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace directly from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM to search and download applications and connect with Microsoft partners. For more information visit http://crm.dynamics.com/DynamicsMarketplace/landing.aspx.
One Microsoft CRM partner, Ivan Kurtev of Massachusetts-based Green Beacon Solutions, said in a Twitter post that he especially likes the guided processes, charts and dashboards and goal management. He added: "The new Outlook client is great too."