Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Watch out NOLA, here we come!

There’s been a lot of talk about Convergence and New Orleans at our office over the past week or so. First, we just sent out email invites to our customers and prospects encouraging them to attend the conference, and highlighting the benefits of attending.

Join us at Convergence 2009 New Orleans
We know that travel budgets are tight this year, so if you can only attend one conference this year we HIGHLY recommend that you choose Microsoft Convergence! This year's Convergence conference will be held in New Orleans from March 10th through 13th.

If you've never been to Convergence before, you should know this event is unique because it is designed exclusively for Microsoft Dynamics customers (CRM and ERP). With more than 10,000+ people in attendance, this is a first-class learning and networking opportunity that you shouldn't miss.

Some of the agenda highlights include:

With more than 28 Microsoft Dynamics CRM sessions already scheduled (and more to come), you won't find a better chance to roll up your sleeves and really learn the product inside and out.

Second, we’re in the process of securing a location for our customer appreciation party. We hope to have those details finalized soon, but please contact us if you’re interested in registering now. Microsoft employees are welcome to join of course. We had a great time in Orlando last year, and this year’s party should be a blast too.

Convergence is an absolute “must attend” event for me, but I’m also excited about New Orleans as the host city. I spent a weekend in New Orleans last February and I had a great time, there is really no other city like it. One of the most distinct memories of my last trip to the Bayou was this crazy “gold man” who would stand absolutely still (no blinking even) for 15 or 20 minutes at a time! I wonder if I will bump into him again this March?!

goldman

Of course, if you’re into culture and stuff like that you can always check out the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, but I thought the gold man was way more interesting. :)

 stlouis

Topics: Microsoft Convergence

Microsoft releases earnings. Sky does not fall.

Microsoft released their quarterly earnings on Thursday, and the news wasn’t great. Sales were up just 1.6% year over year, but profits slid 11.3%. Microsoft also announced that for the first time in their entire history, they will layoff some employees. They cut 1,400 jobs on Thursday and will cut another 3,600 jobs over the next 18 months. They also cut travel and entertainment budgets by 20%. I talked with a few people from Microsoft on Friday, and I didn’t hear that there were any layoffs in Dynamics.

Believe it or not despite the bad news, there was some good news in the earnings call:

  • Microsoft announced they are planning to HIRE an additional 2,000 to 3,000 employees. Therefore the actual net effect of the 5,000 layoffs and the new hires means headcount will be down 2,000 to 3,000 employees. These numbers do not include contractors who might not be renewed for additional engagements.
  • Bill Koefoed, General Manager of Microsoft Investor Relations said "Microsoft business division revenue was up 1% to $4.9 billion. Business revenue grew 7%, driven by continued strength of the annuity business across Office, SharePoint and Client Access licenses suites, and benefited from strong deferred revenue recognition. ...From a product perspective, SharePoint, Office Communication Server and CRM, all grew at double-digit rates."

It is great to see that Microsoft CRM received a positive callout!

Later on Thursday, we received a nice email from Kirill Tatarinov. It was a pretty simple email, but I thought it was a nice touch just reinforcing the “keep your head up” message.

From: Kirill Tatarinov [mailto:Kirill.Tatarinov@microsoft.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 2:31 PM
Subject: Microsoft Dynamics

Presidents Club Partners,

By now many of you are aware of actions Microsoft has taken in response to the difficult economic climate we currently face.  The press release can be found here.

I wanted to use this opportunity to reassure you that Microsoft Dynamics remains an important business opportunity for the company.  Despite challenging economic times our shared investment in Microsoft Dynamics will allow us to outpace the competition by rapidly innovating and advancing all of our core products forward. 

We are committed to our strategy and we continue to execute.  From the ERP side, we remain focused on enabling simplicity for midsized organizations.  In CRM, we continue to target midsized and enterprise organizations, emphasizing the Power of Choice.  Becoming truly industry focused, fully embracing Software + Services, and building on the unique strengths of the Microsoft platform remain key tenets of the overall Microsoft Dynamics strategy. 

I also want to use this opportunity to reinforce that we remain highly committed to YOUR success as a critical part of this business.  Together we can use the opportunity in front of us to gain share through customers that are looking for solutions from a vendor that will be in the market for the foreseeable future.  We will continue to support you in delivering outstanding value to Microsoft Dynamics customers.  Over the past months, we introduced initiatives like 0% financing to help our customers gain immediate access to capital and invest in their business in uncertain economic times.  Over the following months we will be unveiling additional actions to support our customers.

I look forward to seeing many of you in person at Convergence New Orleans.  We will weather this storm together.  We will endure.  We will prevail. 

Thanks,

-- Kirill Tatarinov
Corporate Vice President
Microsoft Business Solutions

Can't publish a workflow after installing a Rollup Update? Read on...

If you have installed the Microsoft CRM Update Rollup 1 or Update Rollup 2, you might experience an error where you cannot publish a workflow rule anymore. According to Microsoft this might happen if you modified the web.config file in your deployment:

If you have modified the Microsoft CRM website web.config file, then you need to manually open the Microsoft CRM Web site web.config file in an editor like Notepad and add the following section to it in order to continue being able to publish workflows:

In the section <authorizedTypes>

…multiple lines here

<authorizedType Assembly="mscorlib, Version=2.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089" Namespace="System.Globalization" TypeName="CultureInfo" Authorized="True"/>

</authorizedTypes>

Microsoft said they are looking at modifying the install notes to include this warning and/or revising the Update Rollup 2 installation files.

Microsoft CRM running on Windows 7 through Internet Explorer 8

Last Friday Microsoft released a beta version of Windows 7, and of course being a software geek, I was curious to check it out. CNET really got my interest going when their Windows 7 review stated:

"Windows 7 could be one of Microsoft's greatest operating systems, if it fulfills the promise shown by the unofficial beta version (build 7000) we have been testing for the past couple of days. I have been pleased to discover over the past several days that Microsoft appears to have built on Vista's strengths and addressed most of its weaknesses with the beta release of Windows 7."

The Windows 7 beta includes a new version of Internet Explorer 8 so I was particularly curious to see how Microsoft CRM would run in that version of the browser. The Windows 7 download site wasn't available on Friday due to high volumes, but I was able to access the download on Saturday. I installed Windows 7 on a old desktop (Pentium 4 2.40 GHz processor with 1 GB RAM), and it went through without a hitch.

The first thing you'll notice in Windows 7 is the cleaned up desktop (no sidebar!) and the new taskbar at the bottom. I even kinda like the new default wallpaper too. :)

7desktop

Firing up Internet Explorer 8 and browsing to a Microsoft CRM website appears pretty much the same as usual.

7-signin

After you sign in, the activities page and the other pages appear to behave the same as Internet Explorer 7. I clicked around to a few different records but didn't notice anything different. However after opening a few windows, I did notice that the taskbar is quite different. Instead of adding "rectangles" (for lack of a better word) in the taskbar, Windows 7 simply updates the IE icon. After you add multiple windows, you might notice that Windows 7 adds vertical lines to the right of the IE icon to indicate the multiple windows are open. If you hover over the IE icon, you'll see a preview of the open browser windows (complete with page titles)! This guy from Wired was really excited about that.

 7-multiplewindows2

I found that the text on the preview records was too small to read. However it is nice to be able to close individual records through this preview without having to open the browser window (simply click the red X in the upper-right corner of the preview). Also, if you hover your mouse over a preview window it brings that record to the top so that you can read it. I have only played with this new taskbar for a little bit but I think I will actually use it (unlike the Flip 3D feature in Vista which looks great but never gets used).

Right-clicking the IE icon in the taskbar presents you with a Jump List that includes your browsing history which is nice and convenient. You can select previous Web pages and back up from there.

7-multiplewindows3

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 seemed to handle Microsoft CRM just fine! The only time I was able to get it to act funky was by playing with the compatibility view setting (the button to the right of lock icon in the address bar) and toggling it off and on repeatedly. By doing so, I noticed that the left navigation got screwed up a little, but a quick F5 refresh cleared up the issue immediately.

7-compatmode

In summary, I am really excited about Windows 7. Apparently a lot of people are as excited as me because Microsoft just announced that they dropped the 2.5 million download limit so anyone who wants to check it out can do so. Microsoft does not plan on releasing a 2nd beta of Windows 7 so you might as well evaluate this version. You can get the goods here. The Windows 7 release timing is up-in-the-air, but it could be anytime from this summer through December. Here's hoping for sooner rather than later! I think that Microsoft CRM users can really benefit from some of the new enhancements in the taskbar and user interface.