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Microsoft taking partner hosting international

With a Microsoft-hosted, SaaS version of Dynamics Live set to launch in the U.S. this quarter, Microsoft is bulking up its partner hosting program abroad and slashing costs.

Microsoft is expanding the number of partners hosting its CRM application beyond the U.S. and Canada.

At Convergence 2007, its European user event being held this week in Copenhagen, Microsoft said it has added to its partner base abroad and is also slashing pricing fees for the hosted version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, formerly codenamed Titan and due out later this year.

Global hosting partners will pay approximately 40% less to host Dynamics CRM, dropping from $25 per month to $15.

"What we're trying to do here is encourage rapid global proliferation of on-demand CRM through our partner base," said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft CRM. "We want to make that same opportunity available for partners to offer much more affordable solutions in an on-demand model."

This summer, Microsoft released pricing for Dynamics Live CRM, its multi-tenant, on-demand version of Titan, which Microsoft hosts itself for customers in the U.S. and Canada. The Enterprise Edition is priced at $59 per user per month, the Professional Edition at $44 per user per month. Microsoft is also offering it at a promotional price of $39 per user per month through 2008 -- all of which are steep discounts from Salesforce.com, which charges $125 and $65 per user per month respectively for its SaaS-based CRM applications.

That's a departure from Microsoft's hosted CRM offerings, which have, until Titan's release, been offered through partners.

"A lot [of partners] look at CRM Live as being a breadth offering that goes after smaller businesses that have less customization than a partner of ours would offer," Wilson said. "They view it as sort of a high/low strategy for on-demand. Some have asked if they can resell Dynamics CRM Live in addition to hosted offerings, and the answer of course is yes. We're enabling two different models."

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Dynamics Live and Dynamics 4.0 are built on the same code base and will allow users to switch from on-premise to on-demand or vice versa with little hassle, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft has not announced plans to take CRM Live beyond the U.S. and Canada.

"A lot of partners are not just offering horizontal CRM but full turnkey solutions for vertical industries or CTI integration -- there's a variety of ways partners can offer additional value," Wilson said. "We firmly believe in the power of choice. We want to make sure [that] in the 80-plus countries we're in, customers have the choice of on-demand or on-premise CRM. Our partners help us get there."

Meanwhile, Dynamics CRM 4.0 is on track for release this quarter. There are more than 100 companies that have been involved in an early adopter program for the past four weeks, Wilson said.

Internationally, the Titan release will bring multi-currency and multi-language capabilities, he said, helping "turn partner hosting from small and interesting to very large and strategic for our business."

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