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Microsoft CRM gets moving, slows down

Microsoft kicked off the week with news that it's making its CRM product mobile and that it's delaying the next release of the tool.

In a bit of good news-bad news for Microsoft fans, the software giant made two CRM announcements Monday at its Convergence 2004 business solutions conference in Orlando, Fla.

Microsoft announced that it will extend CRM Sales for Outlook to its Pocket PCs by the summer, allowing sales agents to work online or off. But those awaiting the 2.0 release of Microsoft CRM software will have to wait a little longer. The company has delayed the release from the end of this year to the second quarter of 2005.

"We're going into beta in the fall, so we're not far off," said Holy Holt, Microsoft CRM's senior product manager. "We're looking at 2.0 in an April-to-June time frame next year."

Microsoft CRM 1.2 shipped in December.

The mobile version, Mobile CRM Sales, will allow users on the road to subscribe to changes and reconfigure workflows on their PC handhelds, Holt said. The mobile functionality builds on Microsoft's IVR (interactive voice response) network, which offers support for Palm devices and smart phones.

"We're excited about the fact this gives our road warriors the ability to be more efficient," Holt said. "That's critical in organizations where leads and opportunities need to be entered and tracked quickly."

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