Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Marketing strikes again, but the new Outlook client is looking good

In Microsoft CRM 3.0 there are two types of Outlook clients:

  • Microsoft CRM Desktop Client for Outlook
  • Microsoft CRM Laptop Client for Outlook

Nice, simple, straightforward and easy to explain to customers. I just saw that there appears to be some new branding for the Outlook clients in Microsoft CRM 4.0:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook with Offline Access

I kinda preferred the simple Desktop versus Laptop distinction, but I guess I had better start practicing how to say "Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook with Offline Access". That's a mouthful!

On the plus side, the Microsoft CRM 4.0 Outlook clients are greatly improved over the 3.0 versions. Some of the things I got excited about are:

  • CRM can sync all of the activities to Outlook (phone calls, letters, etc.)
  • Reminders are automatically generated in Outlook
  • You can track multiple emails at one time!
  • You can un-track an email after you track it
  • You can access ALL of the web functionality in Outlook (including settings and customizations)
  • Company names are sync'd to Outlook! Yes!

The list goes on and on...

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Microsoft CRM running on Firefox, yes it can be done!

As part of writing Chapter 1 in our new book, I did some research on using Microsoft CRM with a non-Internet Explorer web browser. Of course, Firefox is the most common request so I poked around to see what I could find. The good news is that, yes, it's possible to run Microsoft CRM with Firefox! Of course, I wouldn't recommend this for a production deployment because Microsoft won't support it...but it definitely appears to work. The key is that you need to install a Firefox extension named IE Tab. I am not an expert at browser technologies, but my understanding is that the IE Tab extension uses the Internet Explorer rendering engine to display web pages within Firefox. Lastly, I didn't test this too thoroughly but I did click around for a few minutes and everything seemed fine. Personally, I don't like Firefox so I'll continue to stick with IE...I considered this as more of a proof-of-concept to see what's possible.

To view your Microsoft CRM site in Firefox, simply follow these steps:

1. Install the IE Tab extension in Firefox and then browse to your Microsoft CRM site. You'll receive the login prompt:

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2. When it loads, you'll see a mess like this (screenshot taken from Microsoft CRM 4.0/Titan CTP3 build):

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3. Right-click on the page and select "View Page in IE Tab". You can also left-click the Firefox icon in the lower-right corner of the window to change to IE View.

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4. Voila! Microsoft CRM loads just like it does in Internet Explorer!

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5. You can also configure the IE Tab options and add a specific URL so that it ALWAYS renders the page using the IE engine (like I did here by adding the URL http://prodctp3/*). This will save you a few clicks if you visit the same Microsoft CRM site repeatedly.

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Note: Even though these screenshots show Microsoft CRM 4.0/Titan, this also works with Microsoft CRM 3.0!

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New VPC with Microsoft CRM 4.0 RC0 build?

I noticed on the Microsoft PartnerSource website today that it appears Microsoft posted a new build of Microsoft CRM 4.0. This is interesting because the page title says it includes the RC0 build (instead of the MUCH older CTP3 build)! I haven't downloaded it and evaluated it, but obviously I would highly recommend working with RC0 instead of CTP3.

Please also note the following..."The registration key for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application will expire 11/20/2007." It appears you only have a week or so to play with this, so what are you waiting for?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0: Virtual PC Image (RC0 Release)

Last Modified 11/12/2007
Posted 11/12/2007

This is a preview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 leveraging release candidate code in a Virtual PC (VPC) image. Designed for demonstration purposes only, this image has been released for partners to preview and gain familiarity with the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics CRM release.

Overview
This is a preview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 leveraging release candidate code in a
Virtual PC (VPC) image. This demo is designed as a one computer setup with Microsoft CRM 4.0 server and Microsoft CRM 4.0 client for Outlook.

This demonstration also contains Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.
System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows Vista; Microsoft Windows XP
  • Other Requirements: Personal Computer with 1.5 GHz or higher processor and at least 1.5 GB RAM.
  • 10 GB free hard drive space
  • Super VGA (1024x768) video adapter/monitor
  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 software

Instructions
Download all the files to a temporary folder. To extract the VPC, double-click the CRMCTP3vpc.part01.exe file. Once completely extracted, associate the .vhd file with your Microsoft Virtual PC software via the New Virtual Machine Wizard.

Additional Information
This Virtual PC image can be used only for demonstration purposes (as outlined in the EULA).
The registration key for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application will expire 11/20/2007. The VPC image will expire on 11/30/2008.
To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, download the “
What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0” training manual.

Files in this Download
Below are links to the separate files available for this download.

File Name - File Size:
CRMCTP3vpc.part01.exe - 716800 KB
CRMCTP3vpc.part02.rar - 716800 KB
CRMCTP3vpc.part03.rar - 716800 KB
CRMCTP3vpc.part04.rar - 562730 KB

Microsoft to build $500 million data center in our home town Chicago

I saw in the news this week that Microsoft is planning to build a massive $500 million data center in the Chicago suburb Northlake. I wonder if they will host any of the CRM Live servers there?!

Microsoft plans massive data center here

By Eddie Baeb
Crain's Chicago Business
Nov. 05, 2007

Microsoft Corp. plans to open a massive data center in Northlake next year that will be central to the software giant's war with Google Inc. for Internet supremacy.

The structure, large enough to hold eight football fields, could cost more than $500 million to build, sources familiar with the plan say. That would rank it as the most expensive construction project in the suburbs currently, according to local real estate executives.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is building Internet infrastructure around the country to better compete with Google's and Yahoo Inc.'s search engines and to provide more Web-based services. The west suburban data center would be Microsoft's third nationwide since its push began in earnest last year.

The data center will house thousands of computer servers that process Internet activity and other network services. Despite its size, the center probably will employ no more than 75 people to operate the servers.

Bill Patterson, is this your brick?!

I've been meaning to post this topic for about a month, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. But with the Red Sox winning the World Series this week and baseball season over until next spring, I figure it's do or die time!

Living in Chicago, I am a long suffering Chicago Cubs fan. When the baseball season was winding down recently, the Cubs were running LOTS of TV commercials to get fans to buy a commemorative brick paver they will install at Wrigley Field. During the commercial they show a sample brick paver with the engraving "World's Biggest Cubs Fan Bill Patterson".

CubsPaver

Every time I see this commercial (and they show it about once every 15 minutes during a game!), I keep wondering if the Bill Patterson from the Microsoft CRM product team purchased this brick? Even though Bill lives in Redmond now, I know that he grew up and went to high school in the Chicagoland area. Maybe he's supporting his former home team the Cubs via a long-distance paver donation?!?