Microsoft is going to be accelerating its CRM release schedule, and is planning to deliver two minor updates and two more major ones to its online and on-premises CRM offerings in the next 12 months.
Microsoft officials shared the updated "statement of direction" for its on-premises and online version of its CRM product via a post to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM blog on May 12.
Instead of the traditional three years between major releases, Microsoft Dynamics CRM will change to a semi-annual release cycle (spring and fall), according to the updated roadmap.
Microsoft also is planning to deliver an “automatic update” to Dynamics CRM Online in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011, as well as a “scheduled update” to Dynamics CRM Online in Q2 of calendar 2012. On the on-premises front, Microsoft is planning on an update for Dynamics CRM in the fourth quarter of this year, and an upgrade of the Dynamics CRM product in the second quarter of calendar 2012.
"As you would expect, automatic updates happen all at once while scheduled updates allow Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online customers to schedule their update within one year. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that scheduled updates will be larger in scope and complexity compared to automatic updates," the blog post explained.
"On-premise 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 noted.
(Note: I am not reading this as Microsoft will be delivering a new version of Windows, Windows Server, .Net, SQL Server and Office by the second calendar quarter of 2012. I'm asking Microsoft just to make sure, but am not sure if the company will comment. Stay tuned.)
Microsoft released the CRM Online 2011 service in January 2011. It delivered the on-premises version of its CRM 2011 product in mid-February. Microsoft officials have said they are planning to add CRM Online to the Office 365 bundle of Microsoft-hosted applications in calendar 2011, but offered no further details.
"Moving forward, new capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (both Online and On-premises) will be delivered approximately twice yearly with releases targeted for Spring (Q2) and Fall (Q4) of each calendar year. Additionally, Microsoft will provide additional functional capabilities for Online, On-premises and Partner-hosted deployments via the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace. This functionality is completely optional for all customers depending on their business needs," Microsoft's updated statement of direction said.
The statement of direction also included a reference to the "consumerization of business applications," noting that users now have greater expectations about the kinds of devices -- PCs, laptops, tablets and phones -- from which they access CRM information. Microsoft is commting to continue to offer multi-browser support for its CRM offerings, "by utilizing HTML5 for structuring and presenting comment," the document said.