Microsoft to deliver public betas of CRM 2011 and app store in mid-September

Microsoft is signing up testers, as of September 9, who want to kick the tires of the company's next-generation CRM software, service and app store.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is signing up testers, as of September 9, who want to kick the tires of the company's next-generation CRM software, service and app store.

The betas won't be available until later this month -- next week some time in the case of Dynamics CRM 2011, and before the end of the month, in the case of the Dynamics Marketplace, Microsoft officials said. The sign-up site for the CRM 2011 beta is http:///www.crm2011beta.com.

Update: Some testers aren't having to wait, and getting access immediately to the beta bits, as of September 9. (Here's a link to the on-premises CRM 2011 beta code from the Microsoft Download site.) A spokesperson said: "The team has started to roll out access especially folks that had signed up earlier to be informed of the beta. Essentially how the process works is that once people sign up for the beta they get a confirmation saying that they will have details sent to their email address and looks like the team is already starting to respond/ provide access." But the official beta delivery timing is "by next week."

The final version of the 2011 release of the CRM Online service -- which users can opt to have hosted by Microsoft or Microsoft's partners -- is slated for before the end of 2010. The final version of the Dynamics CRM 2011 software is due in early 2011.

Microsoft has been testing privately its next CRM release, codenamed "CRM 5," since earlier this year. The coming beta is the first public test build. The beta of the service will be available in eight languages and 36 markets when they launch next week.

The Dynamics Marketplace, which is Microsoft's answer to Salesforce's AppExchange store, will be a free way for customers to find hundreds of applications and services that build on top of Microsoft's CRM/xRM platforms. Earlier this summer, Microsoft officials said the Marketplace would launch in September, but didn't mention it would be a beta that would be available.

CRM 2011 will add a native Microsoft Outlook Client, an Office-like Ribbon and more user personalization options. It also will provide guided process dialogs, inline data visualizations, performance and goal management capabilities and real-time dashboards, company officials said.

Microsoft is promising "Windows Azure integration" with the coming release, but the Microsoft-hosted version of CRM 2011 won't be running on Windows Azure. (CRM Online is hosted in Microsoft datacenters, but won't be hosted on Azure until some unspecified time in the future, execs have said.) Microsoft also is offering "contextual Microsoft SharePoint document repositories" with the coming version, but still has not made CRM a fully integrated component of its Microsoft-hosted Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) of services.

The Dynamics CRM 2011 software and service will be available in English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese. The beta of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 on-premises software will be available worldwide, and the beta of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be available in Austria, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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