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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Roadmap Updates from WPC 2012

Last week we attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), and the conference was filled with plenty of updates (some good, some bad) about the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Roadmap. Right before WPC, Microsoft posted an update stating that some of the key features that were supposed to be part of the Q2 2012 Service Update will be delayed. The delayed features include:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile: support for various smartphones and tablets including iPhones, iPads and more
  • Cross-browser Support: support for users to run Microsoft Dynamics CRM with non-Internet Explorer Web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox (on both Macs and PC’s)
  • Custom Workflow Activities: would allow developers to deploy custom .NET workflow activity assemblies to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online hosted environment.
  • Enhanced Social: new activity features such as “Like” and advanced feed filtering capabilities

While the blog post was a little light on details explaining the delay, Microsoft execs at WPC basically stated that they were not comfortable that these features were ready from a quality perspective. Therefore, these key enhancements will be included in the next service update, which the blog post refers to as “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q4 2012 Service Update”. This Q4 update will also include other new features and enhancements, but the blog post did not specify the details of what that includes. The blog post promised a Q4 2012 Service Update Release Preview Guide “this summer”.

On the plus side, we attended some outstanding presentations at WPC that outlined some AMAZING new details about the future of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The sessions were titled “Microsoft Dynamics CRM—Now and in the Future” and “Power of Possibilities with Microsoft Dynamics CRM” and you can watch both of these presentations online. Around the 20 minute mark of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM—Now and in the Future video, Bill provides some details about the product roadmap and future releases. Interestingly, these updates are bucketed into the names Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 (different naming pattern than the Q2 and Q4 service updates).


Process Driven UI

WPC2012-ProcessUI-1 WPC2012-ProcessUI-2 WPC2012-ProcessUI-3
Both Microsoft CRM presentations included sneak peeks of the new process driven UI. Microsoft explained that as part of the cross-browser re-engineering process they took the opportunity to streamline the Web browser user interface to remove clutter and reduce pop-ups. Some of the neat tweaks that we liked include:

  • Better use of icons and visual elements (slick looking sales process)
  • Integration with Skype and/or Lync
  • Improved integration with activity feeds
  • Less use of the Ribbon when a record form is open

Again, Microsoft plans to release this revised user interface in the “Fall 2012” timeframe.

CRM Metro Application
Metro1 Metro2 Metro3

Looking into the Winter 2013 release timeframe, Microsoft showed a vision of what the Metro CRM app for Windows 8 might look like. Sticking with the Metro design principles, the user interface is super clean and minimal. In addition, it appears to be MUCH more touch-friendly that than the Web-based UI. Obviously this will be perfect for users running tablet / touch Windows 8 devices.

Summary and our $0.02
While of course we’re disappointed that some key features were delayed until later this year, we’d rather have a delay than have our customers suffer through a product that doesn’t meet their quality needs. We’re also left scratching our head a little about the change in nomenclature for the future releases. Will they stick with the Q2 and Q4 naming, or shift to the Fall/Winter/Spring naming? It doesn’t matter a ton, but I am sure those details will be clarified in the near future. With that said, we’re super excited about some of the great new capabilities and user interface improvements that Microsoft showed at WPC that will appear in the future product roadmap!

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011