Microsoft announced a major upgrade of its Dynamics enterprise solutions Wednesday. Speaking at the Convergence 2007 conference, Kirill Tatarinov, a corporate vice president for Microsoft Business Solutions, said that Microsoft will extend support an additional five years beyond the standard five-year support period for its customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and retail management products.
"Ten years in this industry is quite a long time," Tatarinov said.
Business Ready Customer Care, as the new plan is called, frees customers from having to upgrade to Redmond's latest offerings when their support plan runs out. In addition, customers can buy extended support for older versions of the business management software. "Should you choose to stay for whatever business or technical reason, we will support you," Tatarinov said.
Premier service, which includes 24-hour technical support and on-site visits, might also be extended. The clock starts ticking when the applications are put out in general release. "The idea is to provide consistent and simplified support across all Microsoft products. This is one more step in that direction," he said.
'Confidence for Investment'
Dynamics includes a wide range of business products, such as AX, which provides industry-specific coverage; CRM, a customer relationship management solution; GP, aimed at midsize organizations; NAV, for small-to-midsize companies; Point of Sale and RMS for retail outlets; SL, for project-driven business management; and Snap, which integrates Dynamics with Office applications.
The new support plan won kudos from Picanol NV, a Belgian manufacturer of weaving machines. The extended support and premier support plans deliver "what we need to manage our I.T. infrastructure and plan ahead," Marc De Deygere, Picanol's I.T. program manager, said in a press release. The new plan "reinforces our confidence in future investments" in Dynamics, he said.
Tatarinov offered a clear roadmap for the business applications lines, saying Microsoft would release upgrades every two years with service pack upgrades on an annual basis. Customers can depend on Redmond for clear roadmaps 18 months into the future, he said. "We are committing to effectively give you a statement of direction for every product we will be delivering," Tatarinov said.
Late Delivery on Some Apps
As part of that clear guidance, Tatarinov said that two Dynamics upgrades won't make their scheduled delivery dates. Dynamics NAV 6.0, an enterprise resource planning app for midsize companies, has been pushed back to mid-2008, while Dynamics CRM 4.0, which was supposed to be out this summer, will be available by the end of the year.
Tatarinov said that AX 5.0, due out in the second quarter of 2008, will include VoIP and instant messaging. SL 8.0 and GP 11 will be built into the next version of Office, dubbed Office 14, scheduled for release in 2009. On the small business front, NAV 6.0 and Entrepreneur 2008 will come out in the second half of 2008.
In addition, Microsoft is improving its financing plan, letting customers make regular monthly payments under its Total Solution Financing program. Lease terms range from 24 to 60 months.
Microsoft also announced that the Dallas Cowboys is including Dynamics in its integrated enterprise I.T. strategy. "When we developed the I.T. strategy in 2005, we were looking at integrated solutions for all the enterprise businesses, not just one. (Dynamics) would allow technology to be a business enabler for now and into the foreseeable future," Pete Walsh, the Cowboys' head of technology, said in a statement.