What's Microsoft doing to bring CRM Mobile cross-platform (take two)

Summary:Microsoft is delivering cross-platform support in two phases, and will make its mobile, native CRM clients, due out next year, free.

Microsoft's strategy for delivering cross-platform versions of its mobile client has shifted. (And not in the same way that Microsoft's Silverlight strategy has shifted.)

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Yesterday, I blogged that Microsoft was delaying for a second time the promised delivery of its CRM mobile clients for iPad, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. But what's actually happening is more nuanced.

Bill Patterson, Principal Program Manager with the Dynamics CRM team, told me on November 2 that Microsoft's strategy for delivering the cross platform clients shifted earlier this summer.

"We did have a strategy for (multi-platform) native applications that we had been working on," Patterson said. But after customer and partner feedback, "we decided that it was a compromised experience," he said. "We decided to change and go continuous." ("Continuous" here means consistent and connected across browser, slate/tablet and phone.)

Microsoft's new go-to-market strategy for its mobile CRM clients will occur in two phases.

"We believe the Web browser is the great equalizer across all form factors," said Patterson. That's why Microsoft is making sure to make its CRM capabilities accessible via multiple browsers, including Internet Explorer (including IE10), Chrome, Firefox and Safari on PCs and Macs, as of its December 2012 service update for Dynamics CRM. (This service update is codenamed Polaris.) MIcrosoft will add support for Safari on iOS in January 2013, he said.

Microsoft still plans to deliver native clients for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the iPad by mid-2013, Patterson said. These clients will all be built using HTML5 and JavaScript, he said. The company is evaluating when and whether to build native clients for Android and BlackBerry at a later date -- or whether to deliver support for them only via a Web browser.

Hold onto your hats for this additional change: The Dynamics CRM team has decided to make the native clients that are coming next year free. That's instead of charging $30 per user per month , as originally announced. Patterson attributed the decision to go free to Microsoft wanting to offer users a more fluid, continuous experience.

Topics: iOS, Android, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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