As rumored, Microsoft's biggest announcement at its Convergence 2007 conference in San Diego looks to be the Dynamics Client for Office -- or, as it is known officially "Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server."
What is this ungainly-named monster?
First, it's an Office front-end for Microsoft's Dynamics ERP packages. Think of it as Microsoft's alternative to the Microsoft-SAP-developed "Duet" product (even though in its March 12 press release, Microsoft never once mentions the dreaded "D" word).
Microsoft's Dynamics Client for Office includes 12 self-service applications, including Time and Attendance for Dynamics GP; Project Time and Expense for Dynamics SL and the like.
Microsoft is charging $195 per user for Dynamics Client for Office and $395 per user if users want both Office and SharePoint Server rights. Both SKUs are set to begin shipping in May 2007.
But this is the part of this announcement I really want to hear more about: "Also included in this new (Dynamics Client for Office) offering are licensing rights for customers or industry partners to build their own Office Business Applications, a new category of programs where Microsoft Office becomes the 'front end' for accessing the 'back end' ERP functionality of Microsoft Dynamics."
In other words, Dynamics Client for Office -- in addition to functioning as a new user interface layer -- also is a new Client Access License (CAL) for Dynamics ERP users.
Check out this line from Microsoft's press release:
"AMR Research estimates that 85% of the employees in organizations that have deployed an ERP system are not licensed to use the data and information managed by these systems."
To help wrong these rights, Dynamics Client for Office includes "an Enterprise license for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and access rights to all of the information and processes managed by a Microsoft Dynamics ERP system."
Stay tuned. More to come on this one, as the Convergence conference for CRM and ERP customers and partners kicks off in San Diego on March 12.