Microsoft is expected to try to use cut-rate pricing to compete with Salesforce.com and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) players when it finally launches its Dynamics CRM Live service in 2008.
(You can check out some screen shots of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Live here.)
At its Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver on July 10, Microsoft went public with its pricing and packaging for Dynamics CRM Live, a k a Microsoft CRM 4.0, code-named "Titan."
Microsoft is planning to release two versions of its Dynamics CRM Live service: Professional and Enterprise. From the company's press release, here is how Microsoft distinguishes the two:
• Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM Professional will offer full-suite CRM through Microsoft Outlook and browser clients. Price will be $44 per user per month; however, during 2008 it will be offered to customers at a promotional price of $39 per user per month.
• Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM Enterprise will offer all the capabilities of the Professional product as well as offline data synchronization. Price: $59 per user per month.
Is "offline data sychronization," which requires Outlook and a plug-in, really worth another $14 per user per month, I asked Microsoft. The answer: It costs Microsoft money to allow users to store data in its datacenter -- as opposed to storing it on customers' servers on-premise, like the current Dynamics CRM releases allow you to do.
Microsoft's main target with Dynamics Live CRM, not surprisingly, seems to be Salesforce.com. Try as I might, I couldn't find pricing anywhere on Salesforce.com's Web site. But Infoworld in March reported Salesforce.com's Professional Edition was $65 per user per month and the Enterprise Edition, $125 per user per month.
Microsoft's packaging and pricing "is a direct shot at Salesforce.com," said Josh Greenbaum, an analyst with EA Consulting (as well as one of my blogging colleagues at ZDNet Blogs). "They are going to try to do a WordPerfect or a (Lotus) 123 on them, based on price."
Microsoft officials began dampening expectations at Microsoft's Convergence conference in March that Microsoft would ship the final version of Dynamics CRM Live in 2007, as they originally indicated they would.
Instead, only the on-premise and partner-hosted versions of Dynamics CRM 4.0 (which is the core of Dynamics CRM Live) will ship in the third or fourth quarter of 2007. But CRM Live will be in beta throughout 2007 and won't launch in the first half of 2008. Participants in the customers beta program, which is slated to commence some time in the third quarter, will all be using a free, Professional version of CRM Live; the Enterprise version won't be available at all until 2008.