Well it took several hours to download (over 450 MB!), but we got the EAP (beta) version of Microsoft CRM 3.0 installed and running this morning with no problems. We even added in the Adventure Works Cycle demo data too.
We were working off the TAP3 build for a while (build #5236), so we're excited to start working with the latest and greatest software (build #5295). We were almost 60 builds behind!
The wait is over, we just received notification that Microsoft released the beta version of Microsoft CRM 3.0
to all of the certified CRM partners. Microsoft is calling this release "Early Adopters Program (EAP) Beta". The Microsoft CRM 3.0 Early Access Program will be open to all Microsoft Registered Members, Certified Partners and Gold Certified Partners. You can get more information about downloading the software at http://www.mscrmearlyaccess.com.
Please remember the following points regarding the beta program:
- You can export your customizations from beta to the final release of the product (RTM), but THERE IS NO TOOL TO MIGRATE YOUR DATA FROM BETA TO RTM. Therefore, unless you're willing to throw away data or write a custom data migration script, you should not start using the beta software in house.
- Partners can show and demo the software to customers (and prospects), but they can not leave the code at the customer's office.
We'll post more after we can evaluate the software for a few days, but we're pumped right now!
Update 10/26/05 4:30pm: I updated my original post to reflect that the beta is supposed to be open to all Microsoft Partners, not just CRM certified Partners. Also, I know that the www.mscrmearlyaccess.com website has not changed yet, but we were able to download the beta software through our TAP3 resources. I expect they will update www.mscrmearlyaccess.com shortly.
Update 10/27/05 1:30pm: The www.mscrmearlyaccess.com website is up and running! Go get the goods!
I love product logos, but unfortunately Microsoft CRM does not have a logo. Actually, none of the Microsoft Business Solution products have a logo. However, Microsoft CRM 1.2 did make heavy use of this icon:
Microsoft CRM 1.2 Icon
I have noticed that Microsoft CRM 3.0 now uses this new icon (a lot of times in places where the old icon used to be):
Microsoft CRM 3.0 Icon
I suspect they made this change so that the Microsoft CRM 3.0 icon would be compatible with the XP and Office guidelines (because the 1.2 icons were not compatible).
What do you think? Which one do you prefer?
We updated the Microsoft CRM downloads & docs page on our website with two new Microsoft CRM 3.0 documents: the Implementation Guide and the User Interface Style Guide.
The Implementation Guide is hands down the best document you can read right now about Microsoft CRM 3.0. At 216 pages, it covers almost every aspect of installing and configuring the software. They also include a list of "What's New in Microsoft CRM 3.0":
||Setup checks the technical environment to ensure that appropriate settings and privileges are in place, prior to beginning setup |
||Easier deployment of Microsoft CRM client for Outlook |
||Streamlined deployment for Windows Small Business Server 2003 |
||Support for moving from test and development environments to a production environment |
||New Microsoft Exchange integration architecture allows use of existing virus and spam filtering software, routing of user-to-user e-mail, and multiple Microsoft CRM systems within one Microsoft Exchange environment |
||Security information is stored within Microsoft CRM, rather than in Active Directory, simplifying setup and reporting, as well as improving system performance, scalability, and serviceability |
||Support for running Microsoft CRM in a high-availability environment, with increased diagnostic and maintenance functions, and ability to provide fault tolerance for each potential point of failure |
New feature: Service scheduling
||Customization tools now available through one consistent Web interface |
||Enhanced support for VARs and ISVs |
||Support for customizing activities |
||Support for creating new objects |
||Enhanced functionality and extensibility in workflow |
||New secured database views to allow a variety of reporting tools |
||Enhanced form customization, including support for read-only fields, additional form events, and embedded web pages |
New feature: Marketing automation
||Track availability of service resources such as staff, work schedules, and locations |
||Sophisticated scheduling engine manages booking of appointments, service availability, and can be tuned to optimize scheduling to reduce costs and required resources |
||Integrated with entire Microsoft CRM system so that customer history, demographics, and preferences can be considered as part of service scheduling, and service history can be used for data for sales and marketing processes |
Easier to use reports
||Plan, create and manage a marketing campaign, including return on investment evaluation |
||List management, including creation, import, and export |
||Connection with sales and service data |
||Campaign templates that are used to drive sales activities |
Easier to find information
||Improved reporting, including parameterized reports |
||Improved report customization, including the ability to modify reports in existing Microsoft CRM categories, create additional dynamic and static reports, schedule reports, and e-mail report results |
Easier to use
||Finding records is easier, including a more powerful quick find, and an easier to use and more powerful advanced find, including grouping and time-based queries, and the ability to save and reuse favorite queries |
||Providing a full view of a customer, such as viewing activities from within account and contact records, including new filters to show only needed information |
||Clearer view of the relationships between accounts, contacts and opportunities |
Easier to customize
||Merge duplicate accounts, contacts, and leads |
||Enhanced user interface, including a new notes interface and improvements to the knowledge base |
||When leads are converted to accounts, contacts or opportunities, associated activities and notes are included |
||Additional customization, including adding entities |
||Improved report customization, including ability to modify reports in existing Microsoft CRM categories, create additional dynamic and static reports, schedule reports, and e-mail report results |
The Microsoft CRM 3.0 User Interface Style Guide provides a ridiculous amount of detail about every nook and cranny of the new styles used in the next release. This includes color, spacing, fonts, etc. Here is a sample of the information contained in the Style Guide:
Believe it or not, there are 28 pages of information in the style guide! Of course, this style guide is not targeted for end users but it does show off a lot of different areas of Microsoft CRM 3.0 if you want to see a little more...
Again, you can download both the Implentation Guide and Style Guide off our website.
We could not be more excited about the new Software Development Kit (SDK) for Microsoft CRM 3.0. In addition to a greatly revamped server programming model, Microsoft CRM 3.0 now offers a strong client-side model to allow developers to tap into the following events:
Please take a few minutes to review this example on our website, and let us know what you think!
I just found out about a new Microsoft CRM blog. The nice thing about this particular blog is that an employee on the Microsoft CRM product team is behind it: Kevin Nazemi - Lead United States Product Manager for Microsoft CRM.
Today was the go-live for the blog, and he posted 5 times already! If he keeps that pace up, he'll develop carpal tunnel syndrome by the end of the year for sure.
All joking aside, we're looking forward to reading his blog.
The annual conference for Microsoft Business Solutions customers (Microsoft CRM, Great Plains, etc.) takes place each spring. Save the dates to attend the Convergence 2006 conference in Dallas, Texas from March 25th – March 28th (with the Partner Only Briefing on March 24th).
The Convergence web site will go live in November and it will include the agenda, keynote speakers, pricing, sponsor and exhibitor opportunities, Pinnacle Award information and much more. I attended my first Convergence conference in March 2005 in San Diego and I had a great time. Among the perks:
- Microsoft Business Solutions strategy and product updates complete with breakout sessions.
- Networking. Networking. Networking. I took full advantage of the RIO networking tool and scheduled at least a dozen appointments throughout the conference. I got to connect with customers, prospects, partners and Microsoft employees all in one place...how can you beat that?
- Good keynotes (including the always random-but-not-quite-as-random-as-you-initially-expect keynote from Doug Burgum). In March, Bill Gates gave a keynote on the last day of the conference but unfortunately I had to miss it in order to catch my return flight. However, I did eventually get to see it on a webcast!
- User experience lab. Last year, the CRM product team had usuability mockups for people to test drive and give their feedback. On a sidenote, I also enjoyed the User Experience lab because they served these great smoothies and had a piano player laying down some soothing sounds.
So save the date, and make sure you attend the Convergence 2006 conference!
We posted the 14 new Microsoft CRM Knowledge Base Articles that Microsoft added in September 2005. That number of new articles seemed lower than usual, so we compared the number of new KB articles added each month over the past 5 months:
- September - 14 new articles
It's great to see the number of KB articles drop from a high of 69 in May to just 14 in September.
Much to my surprise, Microsoft just publically released a preliminary version of the Microsoft CRM 3.0 SDK! The Microsoft CRM 3.0 SDK (Software Development Kit) is for developers, system customizers and report writers. There are so many goodies in here including:
- Server Programming Guide – A guide for developers writing server side code, custom business logic, integration modules, workflow assemblies and more. This guide provides an architectural overview of Microsoft CRM, the entity model, security model, Web services, and sample code.
- Client Programming Guide – A guide for developers customizing the Web client or the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook, including scripting, integration of custom Web pages, and sample code.
- Report Writers Guide - A guide for developers writing reports for Microsoft CRM using Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services Report Designer.
Right at the front of the SDK, they list a bunch of items for the "What's New in Microsoft CRM 3.0". Of course this is not the comprehensive list but it gives you a good idea of the great new features and extension capabilities in this release.
||Marketing campaigns driven through sales: |
- Marketing list management
- Campaign templates
- Campaign management
||Powerful management across service resources: |
- Service scheduling engine
- Global appointment book for resource and workforce planning
|User Interface Improvements
||Delivering on ease-of-use promise: |
- Faster data input with fewer clicks, in-line notes, attachments, and the save and new command
- Faster data access (roll-up, quick find, advanced find)
- Data cleanliness (merge)
- Richer activity model (activity management)
- Intuitive unified toolbar across all grids
|Integration with Microsoft Office
||Delivering the best CRM for Office: |
- Seamless integration, full functionality in Outlook
- IBF to surface CRM data and actions in Office
- Reporting through Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Access
|Integration with Microsoft Outlook
||Deeper and richer Outlook integration: |
- The premier Microsoft CRM client for sales, service, and marketing
- New online only multi-user Outlook client
- Support for custom entities
- Control over which data can go offline and which data is synchronized
- Faster page load
- Faster synchronization
||Now includes the full power of Microsoft SQL Server: |
- SQL Reporting Services Report Engine
- Filtered database views for other reporting tools
- Strong Microsoft Office integration and analysis
|"No Fail" setup
||Simple and reliable application installation: |
- Environmental Diagnostics Wizard for validation
- Repair and rollback support
- Group policy support for desktops using Microsoft CRM Sales for Outlook
- Ability to create new report servers or connect to existing ones
|Small Business deployments
||Minimal involvement by application installer |
- "Name and Key" installation - the rest is automated
- Optimized for Windows Small Business Server 2003
||Enhanced support for existing corporate networks and policies: |
- Leverage Active Directory for authentication only
- New Exchange architecture for e-mail tracking and routing
- Enhanced application security
- Fault tolerance support for Microsoft CRM, e-mail, and database servers
||Support for tailoring closely to business needs without writing code: |
- Customize activities
- Customize, rename, add, and delete new entities
- Add and delete new attributes
- Increased capacity for new attributes
- Customize cascading behavior for operations
- Customize relationships and mappings
- Workflow for business process automation
||Custom integrations and vertical solutions through code: |
- Extend the application UI – Navigation, toolbar, grid actions in a single configuration file for both Web and Outlook clients
- Outlook menu extensions
- Transactional callouts on mid-tier for business logic
- Write client side code for enhanced usability
- Call Web services from workflow for cross-system support
||New SDK supports a strong partner community: |
- New Web service architecture based on service-oriented architecture (SOA) and WSDL standards
- APIs to support ISVs such as import, export, and publish APIs
"Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia."
- Alexis Carrel
When any new software version is about to be released, customers might be tempted to just "wait and see" what happens instead of jumping on board right away. Nine times out of ten our biggest competitor is simply inertia...customers always have the option to just do nothing and continue business as usual. Of course we can demonstrate the benefits of implementing Microsoft CRM (or any CRM system for that matter), but a lot of people still choose to do nothing or else they delay their decision indefinitely. We've seen a little of that behavior recently where customers are very excited about Microsoft CRM 3.0, but they are delaying any sort of purchase decision until Microsoft releases the final 3.0 product.
To help make the customers' decision easier, Microsoft designed a great "Buy Now" incentive if they commit to Microsoft CRM before this December 1st (on version 1.2):
Any customer who purchases any module of Microsoft CRM 1.2 Professional and the associated user licenses will get full-suite rights to all modules (Sales, Marketing and Customer Service) in the 3.0 version.
Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) regarding the Buy Now promotion:
What do I get with full-suite rights to Microsoft CRM?
Full-suite rights grants access to all functionality available in Microsoft CRM.
Should I be ordering a special SKU?
No. Simply purchase any module of Microsoft CRM 1.2 Professional (Sales Professional, Customer Service Professional,or Suite Professional) and the associated user licenses today and you will automatically be eligible to receive full-suite rights upon release.
Do I need to take any special action to ensure I am eligible to receive full-suite rights with the next release of Microsoft CRM?
No. Simply purchase any module of Microsoft CRM 1.2 Professional (Sales Professional, Customer Service Professional, or Suite Professional) and the associated user licenses today and you will automatically be eligible to receive full-suite rights upon release.
How do I receive the media for my full-suite rights with the next release of Microsoft CRM?
Media distribution varies by licensing of program. Details of obtaining media for the next release of Microsoft CRM under each Microsoft licensing program will be made available at www.microsoft.com/crm shortly after Microsoft CRM 3.0 is released to manufacturing.
I have Microsoft CRM Professional today-am I eligible for this policy?
This policy also applies to any prior customer of CRM 1.0 or 1.2 who has purchased any module (and associated users) of CRM Professional and has active Software Assurance or Maintenance.
I have Microsoft CRM Professional today and want to add some licenses-will all my licenses be eligiblefor this policy?
All new Microsoft CRM 1.2 Professional licenses will be eligible for this policy. Past Microsoft CRM 1.0 or 1.2 purchases of any module (and associated users) of CRM Professional who have active Software Assurance or Maintenance are also eligible for this policy.
What if I have or purchase Microsoft CRM 1.2 Standard?
This offer does not apply to Microsoft CRM 1.2 Standard. However, all customers who have or purchase Microsoft CRM 1.0 or 1.2 Standard and have active Software Assurance or Maintenance will receive equal or better rights to the next release of Microsoft CRM. Details on specific Microsoft CRM 3.0 functionality available to Microsoft CRM Standard customers with active Software Assurance or Maintenance will be announced prior to the general availability of the next release of Microsoft CRM.
How will Software Assurance or Maintenance pricing be calculated?
Software Assurance or Maintenance is included with Microsoft CRM 1.2 for no additional charge for the term of the licensing agreement (up to three years). Optional Software Assurance renewals are subject to pricing at the time of renewal.
When will the pricing of the next release of Microsoft CRM be announced?
The pricing of the next release of Microsoft CRM will be announced prior to the general availability of the next release of Microsoft CRM.
Does this policy have an expiration date?
Yes. This policy expires December 1, 2005.
And of course, you can download the official "Buy Now" Incentive PDF from our website.