Microsoft CRM: What's coming in the next release

Microsoft is poised to deliver new updates to its CRM Online and CRM on-premises offerings. Here's a list of the promised features.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has posted a preview as to what's going to be in the next version of its Dynamics CRM product.

The cloud version -- CRM Online -- is going to be first to get a number of new updates, sometime in the coming weeks. Microsoft will make those same updates, plus some additional features, available via an on-premises version of its CRM release. I believe (but am not totally sure) both of these updates are coming in Q4, based on a new post on the Dynamics CRM blog.

Microsoft execs said earlier this year that the CRM team is moving to a twice-yearly delivery schedule for both the CRM Online and CRM on-premises offerings.

From the October 19 CRM blog post:

"Microsoft Dynamics CRM is moving to a rapid innovation cadence where additional capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (both Online and on-premises) are delivered in releases targeted for the Spring (Q2) and Fall (Q4) of each calendar year. The first of these releases will be the Q4 2011 Service Update."

(The wording makes me uncertain whether the "Service Update" is a CRM Online only thing and the next on-premises update will be in spring 2012.)

Here's the roadmap slide from that post:

(click on slide to enlarge) According to this Microsoft roadmap slide, unified provisioning, billing and administration, as well as identity federation and in-region disaster recovery support are all coming to the online version only. The first three of those capabilities are all related to the integration of CRM Online with Office 365 (which is also happening before the end of this year, Microsoft officials have said).

New "activity feeds" -- which are based on Facebook and/or Salesforce Chatter's model (take your pick) are coming to both the online and on-premises versions of the next Dynamics CRM release, the blog post notes. Microsoft also is going to offer a Windows Phone version an activity feeds client as part of this update. (This is not a full CRM client for Windows Phone; it is just a feeds client.) New business-intelligence capabilities and enhanced data-cleansing functionality are also coming to both the online and on-premises releases, Microsoft officials blogged.

Microsoft has posted to the Web a CRM Q4 release preview guide that goes into detail on all of these features.

Update (October 29): The Q4 CRM update was released on October 25 for both online and on-premises Dynamics CRM users. On-premises users can download the Q4 release from the Microsoft Download Center.

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