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Microsoft delays next CRM release

Microsoft will be late with its CRM upgrade but it says the delay wasn't its idea.

Less than a week into his job at Microsoft, Brad Wilson, the new general manager for CRM, was tasked with informing the public that the company is delaying the release of CRM version 2.0

The Release to Manufacturing (RTM) of Microsoft CRM, originally scheduled for March, has been pushed back to the fourth quarter of this year.

"This is a partner-driven decision," Wilson said. "We're essentially doing this at their request."

Microsoft consulted with its 100-member Partner Advisory Council before arriving at the decision.

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The delay will let Microsoft expand the scope of the release, according to Wilson. The delay was driven by three main factors: simplifying the installation process for small businesses, enhancing process workflows, and improving the service-oriented platform to allow customers and partners to more easily integrate.

Microsoft, whose CRM customer base spans small shops and divisions of large enterprises, is aiming to enable a small business to install the product in five clicks or less, Wilson said.

The workflow improvements will streamline the sales and service modules.

Finally, the platform enhancements are aimed at easing access to Microsoft CRM's network of 1,500 partners.

"This doesn't mean we won't be delivering a lot of code between now and then to our partners," Wilson said.

Microsoft will work with independent software vendors through its Technology Adoption Program, and a beta version for customers is scheduled to be released in the third quarter.

Wilson is a 20-year high tech veteran who has held positions at the former PeopleSoft Inc., as well as at Epiphany Inc. and Sigma Dynamics Inc., both located in San Mateo, Calif. Microsoft appointed him to lead its CRM operations last week. He joins David Thacher, general manager for Microsoft CRM development, in driving strategy for the product.

"Our ability to create the platform we build applications on has been eye-opening to be quite honest," Wilson said.

Microsoft will also extend global availability of its CRM software, adding localized support in Japanese, Chinese, Norwegian, Finnish and Iberian Portuguese.

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