Microsoft CRM Exposed -
Background and History


Consistent with Microsoft’s historical “release and improve” approach to product management, Microsoft Small Business CRM 1.0, released in 2003 was, at best, an extension of the Outlook client. Its limited functionality only allowed users to manage accounts and contacts. As the name suggests, it was targeted exclusively at small businesses that wanted to improve their ability to track accounts and contacts and replace traditional contact management products like ACT! and Goldmine. A plethora of technical challenges with installing, setting up and using the product, coupled with limited functionality, resulted in relatively few consumers of this initial release. Microsoft added fixes and features throughout 2003 via service packs and then released version 1.2 in late 2003, which added language support for a small number of languages and improved setup.

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As noted earlier, Microsoft skipped version number 2.0 altogether.

Microsoft CRM Version 3.0, released in late 2005 added the ability to access CRM via the web through Microsoft hosting partners. V 3.0 also added a healthier set of features to support marketing and service functions. The Dynamics moniker was added to emphasize the integration with Great Plains Dynamics line of Accounting and ERP applications. V 3.0 included page customizations to entities and attributes and added workflow capabilities that enabled users to quickly setup and manage their own rules. Integration with Outlook remained to be strong, with support of the 2007 versions of Outlook and Exchange and the Office suite of products. Finally, Microsoft added support for Vista when it became available giving IT another OS option to deploy on.

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Microsoft CRM Dynamics Version 4.0 adds a number of additional features and functions, the most notable being the support of a multi-tenancy data architecture and the ability to access the application as a service hosted either by Microsoft directly or through one of Microsoft’s hosting partners (more about these later in this paper). Dynamics CRM 4.0 also takes advantage of the many advancements Microsoft has made to its technology stack. For example, it employs Windows Workflow Foundation and Communication Foundation components, plus improved reporting through SQL Server Reporting and Analytic Services. These improvements provide a greater degree of integration and intersystem collaboration flexibility and better reporting and analysis capabilities. Finally, with Microsoft’s continued effort to entice larger organizations to consider Dynamics CRM as an enterprise level solution, V 4.0 supports a larger set of languages through Multilanguage User Interface (MUI) packs and has multi-currency support.

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