Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Microsoft CRM 3.0 Virtual PC Image

A prospect contacted us a few weeks ago about Microsoft CRM, and he told me about the trouble he experienced getting the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Virtual PC image to run. It downloaded fine for him (although it is an 11 GB download!), but he described the performance as slooooooooooooooooooow. Unbearably slow. Unusable slow.

Now we have not used the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Virtual PC image in the past, but his story struck me as strange. The prospect seemed to be a sharp guy so I assume he installed everything correctly, but surely there must be something going on here. I decided to download and try running the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Virtual PC image myself. I ran it on my laptop with the following specs:

- Windows XP SP2
- 2 GB RAM
- Pentium M 2.13 GHz
- Virtual PC 2004

At first the virtual PC performance was unbelievably slow just like the prospect said. So I hopped on Google and started doing some searches. I came across this article about Virtual PC performance that said:

And if you've got RTM VPC running on XP SP2, you really need to install VPC SP1 as performance is bad without it.

I checked, and I was NOT running Virtual PC SP1! I could not believe I didn't have SP1 since I used the brand new January 2006 MSDN CD to install Virtual PC 2004. Consequently I installed the Virtual PC 2004 SP1, and now the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Virtual PC image runs like a champ! You can download SP1 from FYI, I allocated 1280 MB of RAM to the virtual machine, and the performance is very good.

Now that I've been using this Microsoft CRM Virtual PC image for a few days...I'm hooked! It includes the following software pre-installed (complete with demo data):

- Microsoft CRM 3.0
- Microsoft Office 2003
- Microsoft CRM desktop client for Microsoft Office Outlook
- Microsoft SQL Server 2005
- SharePoint Portal Server 2005
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2005

This particular image is very cool because it includes the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook on the same machine as the Microsoft CRM server. This allows us to demo ALL of the Microsoft CRM funtionality from one machine instead of needing a client and a server machine to demo Outlook (client) and workflow (server). We will definitely be using this Virtual PC image for our onsite Microsoft CRM demos going forward.

Vote on the book sample chapter that you want!

We're just wrapping up the final editing touches on our forthcoming Microsoft CRM book titled "Working with Microsoft Dyanmics CRM 3.0". This book targets the project managers and developers responsible for configuring and customizing Microsoft CRM for their organizations. It's loaded with code samples, examples and lessons we learned from our real-world Microsoft CRM implementations.

We're planning on releasing one of the 11 chapters as a free sample, please let us know which chapter you want to see by adding a comment to this blog post!

The 11 book chapters are:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Overview
  • Setting Up Your System
  • Managing Security and Information Access
  • Entity Customization: Concepts and Attributes
  • Entity Customization: Forms and Views
  • Entity Customization: Relationships, Custom Entities and Site Map
  • Reporting and Analysis
  • Workflow
  • Server-side SDK
  • Client-side SDK
  • Integrating with Additional Applications (custom Web site and SharePoint)

Please let us know which chapter you want to see the most for our free sample, and please vote for a second favorite too.

CRM 3.0 90-day trial version available

Interested in checking out Microsoft CRM 3.0 but you're not ready to buy yet? Download a fully-functional 90-day trial version of Microsoft CRM and test drive it for yourself!

Microsoft CRM 3.0 is available as a 90-day trial version in each language in which Microsoft CRM is available. This page will be updated with new languages as they are released.

Each trial version can be converted to full use by applying a commercial license key in Microsoft CRM License Manager. A re-install is not required. When you decide which trial version to use, remember:

  • The Small Business Edition trial version can be converted to a commercial Small Business Edition or Professional Edition.
  • The Professional Edition trial version cannot be converted to a commercial Small Business Edition.

To use the 90-day trial, you will need the convertible trial keys available below. To get the trial software, download it from this page or re-use Microsoft CRM 3.0 media with a trial key:

  • Microsoft CRM 3.0 Professional Edition Trial Key (100,000 CAL limit)
  • Microsoft CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition Trial Key (75 CAL limit)

Important: Users will not be warned of impending trial expiration, so be sure that you decide well before day 90 whether to convert to a commercial license. The 90-day trial limit cannot be extended.

Our forthcoming book Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 will also include a 90-day trial version of the software. The book will include the two CD's you need so that you don't have to spend hours downloading the files (which of course can be quite large!).

CRM 3.0 Report Scheduling Wizard

Microsoft just released the Microsoft CRM 3.0 Report Scheduling Wizard which helps you create report snapshots more easily. Without this wizard, you needed to leave the Microsoft CRM user interface and go to the SQL Server Reporting Services Report Manager to create your snapshots. So putting this snapshot functionality with the Wizard interface in Microsoft CRM is obviously a very nice utility. You can schedule report snapshots using one of two methods:

  • Scheduling reports to run on a specific interval (every Monday at 8am, etc.)
  • Creating report snapshots on demand

After you install the Wizard on the server, you'll see a new option in the report menu. From there you can launch the Wizard which will guide you through the steps to schedule your reports or create report snapshots. We tried it and it works great!

One important note regarding report snapshots, you must specify user credentials to run the report with. Therefore, every user who views a report snapshot will see the data generated from the report credentials you specified, not the user's credentials. However if the user runs a live report it will use their credentials so they see only the data that they should. In addition, the Wizard lets you specify which users you want to share the report snapshot with, so you can block out certain users if you need to.

New document on using Microsoft CRM 3.0

Microsoft recently released a new 124 page document titled "Using Microsoft CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition".

This training manual provides an overview of the processes and functionality available to Microsoft Dynamics CRM users. It begins with an introduction to the core concepts of Microsoft CRM and then focuses on marketing automation, sales management, and customer service processes, respectively. The course is intended to be introductory in nature and uses instructor-led demonstrations. It is intended for small business partners new to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and seeking to gain an overview of its capabilities.

Topics covered in the training manual include:

  • Basic Microsoft Dynamics CRM concepts, including object types, navigation, and user interface
  • The various ways that marketing lists can be created and used in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • How to create and manage marketing campaigns
  • How a potential sale moves from lead to opportunity to quote to order and finally to invoice
  • How sales processes can be implemented in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Customer service using cases, knowledge base articles, and contracts
  • The service scheduling engine

Even though the document says its for Small Business Edition, almost all of the functionality and topics covered in this document also apply to the Professional Edition of Microsoft CRM too. There's very little functionality difference between the two versions.

Of course you can download this document from our Microsoft CRM Downloads & Docs page.

Microsoft CRM hotter than Desperate Housewives?

If you asked any regular person on the street what's hotter:

I think every single person would laugh in your face and say "Of course it's Desperate Housewives! And what is Microsoft CRM 3.0?" Before today, I probably would have agreed too.

However, I was just checking out the pre-sales on our forthcoming book "Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0". It turns out that the Microsoft CRM 3.0 book is ranked two slots ahead of the Desperate Housewives 2006 Wall Calendar! I knew that people were excited about Microsoft CRM 3.0, but this shocked the heck out of me!

Maybe that could be part of Microsoft's marketing strategy for the software? Microsoft CRM 3.0: It's Hotter than Desperate Housewives.

CRM 3.0 eCourses now available

Just arrived in my Inbox:

Four Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 eCourses are now available for purchase. eCourses are designed to cover detailed concepts on specific topic areas, for example a module. They are based on a “just-in-time” model so you can enroll and start learning at any time and at your own pace. Our eCourses contain between 20 and 40 hours of content and activities, and they help provide the in-depth training needed to prepare for Microsoft Business Solutions certification exams. All of our eCourses give students access to the full session for a sixty-day period.

Purchase your eCourse today to get up to speed on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0

The following Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 eCourses are $299 each:
-Sales Management
-Marketing Automation
-Service Management
-Service Scheduling

To register for eCourses: call 800-456-0025 then press option 4 or email

CRM 1.2 Support Expiration

Consider this your 9 month reminder, mainstream support for Microsoft CRM 1.2 ends on 10/31/2006. Mainstream support for Microsoft CRM 1.0 already ended on 12/31/2005.

What does that mean?

  • Once mainstream support ends, you can not contact Microsoft technical support for support incidents.
  • You should make sure that you have a plan (and budget) in place to upgrade to Microsoft CRM 3.0 in the coming months.

Windows Live Messenger Beta sneak peek

One of my friends that works at Microsoft sent me an invite to try the new Windows Live Messenger Beta (the new version of MSN Messenger):


We'd like you to be among the first to try the beta version of Windows LiveTM Messenger.

If you use MSN® Messenger now, we think you're really going to enjoy Windows Live Messenger. It's as fun and reliable as the Messenger you already know, and you won't lose your contact list or any other personal information when you try this new version. Check it out to experience new ways to connect to your friends via text, voice, video, and more.

And in case you were wondering about the name change, Windows Live Messenger is part of a new family of services from Microsoft® that includes Windows Live Mail (now a simpler, safer, faster mail), and (a new personalized homepage experience), to name just a few.

The Windows Live Messenger team

I installed the new software and it looks super slick!

I have only used it for a day or two but I already found a great new feature: offline messaging. This feature allows me to send a message to a contact when they're offline and then Windows Live Messenger will hold the message and automatically deliver it for me the next time the contact signs in! How cool is that?

Want to see what Microsoft CRM 3.0 really looks like?

Well we finally figured out the secret formula to navigate the Microsoft Volume Licensing labyrinth of mazes so that existing Microsoft CRM 1.2 customers can receive their Microsoft CRM 3.0 media and license keys!

Here is what the Microsoft CRM 3.0 really looks like, well at least what the media looks like. It's not too exciting on the outside...but it's plenty cool on the inside. Also, I'm glad to see they downsized from Microsoft CRM 1.2 which required 5 different CD's. Microsoft CRM 3.0 only has two CD' for the Server, one for the Outlook client.