Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

More on Dynamics CRM Rebranding

On September 7th, Microsoft announced that their Microsoft Business Solutions products will be rebranded under the "Dyanmics" name. From what we've pieced together over the past few weeks, here is our analysis of how the Dynamics rebranding will impact Microsoft CRM:

  • Microsoft CRM will be rebranded as "Microsoft Dynamics CRM", but the full Dynamics name only needs to be referenced in the first mention. Subsequent product references can be just "Microsoft CRM". This is actually the same as the current branding where the official name is "Microsoft Business Solutions CRM", but everyone simply refers to the name "Microsoft CRM". So this should be no problem whatsoever, and as a bonus CRM can help leverage some of the Dynamics-related brand equity (from print ads, trade shows, etc.).

  • It is our understanding that the Dynamics branding will appear in CRM 3.0 marketing materials, but the product launch should NOT be delayed by the re-branding.

  • Long term (2008 or later), the ERP products Axapta, Great Plains, Navision and Solomon will consolidate to one ERP product simply named "Microsoft Dynamics". However, Microsoft CRM will continue to be sold separately from the Dynamics ERP product. This ERP code consolidation is a key part of Project Green (Wave 2) initiative you might have heard about over the past few years.

Overall, we like the new Dynamics branding and we're glad to hear that Microsoft CRM will continue as a stand-alone project well in the future!

Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 2 Released

Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Office 2003 today, and you can download it here. I checked the "official" Microsoft CRM system requirements, and there is no mention of needing Service Pack 1 for Office 2003, so we assume CRM users are safe to update their machines with Office 2003 Service Pack 2...

GARTNER: Microsoft's collaboration "dominance" vs. IBM

Got this little tidbit from Dale Timberlake, our Midwest District Partner Team Lead:

Hot off the Gartner presses, a terrific report entitled “Microsoft and IBM Share Similar Collaboration Goals, but Follow Different Paths.” The report compares the long-term vision of each company in order to predict how successfully or unsuccessfully IBM will compete with Microsoft’s “dominance” and “early lead” in the space.

A few highlights:

  • “By 2009, Microsoft’s collaborative vision will achieve significant, if not overwhelming, enterprise adoption (0.9 probability). The viability of Microsoft in the integrated collaboration market is not really in question.”

  • “Given Microsoft’s dominance and ambitious plans for Windows and Office System, it will almost certainly continue to dominate. Whether IBM is a distant second or a realistic challenger depends on how it executes its basically sound strategy. Based on current performance, we believe IBM is more likely to be a distant second.”

  • “IBM has the more difficult job ahead of it, because Microsoft has taken an early lead in building support for its vision of integrated collaboration.”

More CRM 3.0 Partner Training

In addition to the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Partner Readiness tour throughout the country, Microsoft is now offering 3 days of classroom training on Microsoft CRM 3.0. I am sure this will be a hot class, so register immediately if you are interested. Here are the details:

Register for Microsoft CRM Partner Training on New Version 3.0 Features
The Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Support team is pleased to offer a special training class for Microsoft Business Solutions Partners wanting to learn more about the new features with Microsoft CRM Version 3.0. This class will benefit those in your organization who have end-user roles and those who have roles supporting the Microsoft CRM product.

Dates: October 3 – 5, 2005
Cost: $995.00 per participant ($900.00 per participant if more than
one participant per partner)
Location: Fargo, North Dakota

To register, please contact MBS Professional Services via e-mail at or call 701-281-7676. Include the following information:
• Participant Name(s):
• Participant Phone #(s):
• Participant E-mail(s):
• Participant’s Company Name:
• Title and Date of Class:

If you have further questions, contact Ben Syltie with the Microsoft CRM team at or 701-492-3657.

PDC Wrapup & Pictures

Yesterday was our last day at the PDC show, unfortunately I need to get back to the office and catch up on several hundred emails! Overall we had a great time and learned a ton about upcoming developer technologies. Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 will provide incredible productivity gains, but they won't be released until November 7th. Office 12 looks like it will be amazing too.

Below are some photos I took of the show, so you can get a little feel for what it looked like:

PDC Welcome!

Massive PDC sign on
LA Convention Center

Crowds queuing up
for a session

Hands-on Labs

Dining Area

Live from PDC: Arash's PowerPoint file for download

They released Arash's PowerPoint presentation from yesterday's PDC session, and we posted it for you to download. The PowerPoint explains from a high level the Microsoft Word - Microsoft CRM bidirectional integration that he demonstrated. The outline of his presentation was:

  • Microsoft CRM V3.0 overview
  • Architecture and Extensibility overview
  • Price proposal management business scenarios
  • Solution - Customization and schema generation
  • Solution - Form event programming and object model
  • Solution - Web Services and Object Model
  • Solution - .NET assembly code extensions (Callouts & Workflow)
  • Solution - Office integration Solution - Demo

Download the PowerPoint presentation here... (3 MB)

There are a few good images/screenshots from this presentation that share more information about Microsoft CRM 3.0. We'll break those details out and post everything to our website soon.

The screenshot to the right shows the Microsoft Word Taskpane that Arash designed to handle the Microsoft CRM integration.

Again, Arash said that this sample (with the source code) will eventually be released to the MSDN website for public download and usage.

Lastly, Microsoft gave copies of the Visual Studio 2005 Release Candidate to all PDC attendess this morning...very cool!

Live from PDC: Extending and Customizing Microsoft CRM Solutions

Microsoft CRM Program Manager
Arash Ghanaie-Sichanie

Microsoft CRM Program Manager Arash Ghanaie-Sichanie presented the "Extending and Customizing Microsoft CRM Solutions" PDC session today. Just the like the Microsoft Partner Conference in July, the room was packed (but not quite standing room only!). Arash explained in detail how to create a proposal in Microsoft Word that pulls data from and publishes data to Microsoft CRM. He created this by using the Visual Studio Tools for Office to create a custom task pane in Microsoft Word that connects to Microsoft CRM 3.0 web services. Arash said the code he demoed today will eventually be published on MSDN after CRM 3.0 releases.

Most people familiar with Microsoft CRM know that the quote output in version 1.2 was a little lacking, so being able to implement this type of Word-CRM integration will be very beneficial to many different customers.

During the Q&A session, one of the audience members asked a good question about working with Outlook offline. He wanted to know if the pre and post-callout functionality of CRM 3.0 works when a user is offline. Arash answered the question by pointing out the following:

  • CRM 3.0 has additional hooks exposed to indicate when a user if offline, and you could create additional code to handle this situtation

  • When an offline user goes back online, all of their offline changes will then run through the appropriate callouts loaded on the server.

PDC posts the PowerPoints from each session for attendees to download, but they haven't posted Arash's file yet. Once they release it, we'll publish it for you to download too.

Live from PDC: Chunks and Floaties

We've heard the expression "chunks" and "floaties" a bunch today at PDC. While it might sound like some party gone terribly terribly wrong, chunks and floaties are actually names for elements of the new Office 12 User Interface. I just listened to Jensen Harris breakdown the new Office 12 UI in detail, and I am even more impressed with the revamped Office 12 interface now than I was at the keynote this morning. Here are some of the new UI features:

  • Ribbon (dynamic UI element replacing File / Edit / Insert / etc. menus)
  • Chunks (sub-sections of the Ribbon)
  • Galleries (graphical elements within a Chunk)
  • Live Previews (allows you to preview changes without actually applying them)
  • Floatie (quick access to Galleries next to selected text)
  • Super Tool Tips (floating context sensitive help)
  • Key Tips (all Office 12 commands are now keyboard accessible!)
  • Window Frame enhacements
  • Context Menus now use Galleries instead of launching dialogs
  • New File Menu
  • New Application Settings / User Preferences (replacing "Options)

I found a website that posted new Office 12 screenshots if you want to check it out for yourself.

Jensen said that the following applications will receive the new UI in Office 12, and the rest of the Office applications would be updated later:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Outlook
  • Access
  • Powerpoint

The one question everyone wanted to know: will there be a "classic mode" so that users can work using the Office 2003 UI? The answer: no! All of the new features and the updated context simply don't map to the old UI so there won't be a classic mode.

To me, the best part of the Office 12 presentation was hearing that Microsoft made a lot of their design decisions based off data collected from actual Office 2003 usage...instead of making these decisions off "gut instinct". Even though the new UI is a drastic depature from Office 2003, I am confident it will drastically improve usability.

Microsoft CRM featured in PDC Keynote

We're live at the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference, and I am very glad to report that a Microsoft CRM 3.0 demo made the opening keynote speech by Bill Gates! They showed how CRM 3.0 will include an RSS XML feature where you can configure CRM to dynamically publish customer data. Their demo showed an RSS export of customer qutoes, but the concept could be easily extended to other topics such as new Leads, won Opportunities, new Cases, etc. We're very excited that CRM is receiving "keynote level attention"!

Of course, there was lots of other cool stuff in the keynote but because it was ridiculously long (over 3.5 hours), everyone's schedule are a little goofed right now. Here's a quick list of some of my other personal keynote highlights before I have to run to my next session:

  • First public demo of Office 12 - they showed the new UI which is very different from Office 2003, but I think people will like it a lot

  • More demos of Vista - lots of great stuff with the tricks they are using to improve application performance. The Vista UI is just amazing to see.

  • Enhancements to C# by using LINQ (new technology/syntax)

  • Public release of ATLAS - Microsoft's implementation of AJAX web application technology (very very cool)

I'll post again later as we learn more...

CRM 3.0 Fact Sheet Released!

Now we're getting somewhere! Microsoft published an "official" Microsoft CRM 3.0 Fact Sheet. This two page PDF lists out some of the new 3.0 features from a high level (categorized under their 3 product launch themes):

  • Works the way you do

  • Works the way your business does

  • Works the way IT expects it to

There are a few more screenshots in this document, but they are almost impossible to see due to image compression reducing the quality. Just take our word for it, the Microsoft CRM 3.0 user interface looks great!

You can download the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Fact Sheet off our website...