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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. :)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.