July 11, 2006 5:30 AM PDT

Microsoft plans 'Live' CRM service

BOSTON--Microsoft plans to launch a new hosted CRM service next year under its expanding Live brand.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, an on-demand alternative to its on-premise customer relationship management software, is set to debut by mid-2007 as part of a revamped product code-named Titan.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, announced the offering here Tuesday at its Worldwide Partner Conference of roughly 8,000 of its business affiliates.

Steve Ballmer Steve Ballmer,
Microsoft CEO

Ballmer made his pitch to the partners on why they should work with Microsoft. "When you leave you have to understand what the opportunity is for (you), and do you want to invest with Microsoft," he said.

The revamped CRM hosting plan was widely expected. Ballmer called CRM Live "maybe the single most inevitable announcement in the history of Microsoft."

The service, the third major category under the Live brand, joining Windows Live and Office Live, underscores Microsoft's ambitions in the business software market. Company executives have said it could represent Microsoft's next billion-dollar business.

Microsoft, Ballmer said, will "move with Live implementations to create a platform out in the cloud that is hostable, is extremely, extremely important."

The hosted CRM service is based on the same code base as the company's traditional on-premise software that customers install within their companies. Microsoft will host the new service within its own data centers, said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft's main rivals in the CRM business include Oracle, which purchased Siebel Systems last year; Salesforce.com, which is seen as the leader in the hosted CRM market; and SAP, which launched its own revamped hosted CRM service earlier this year.

Wilson said the move isn't in reaction to SAP or other competitors.

"Our competition is very broad. This announcement is not in response to any particular competitor. It's more of a reaction to an opportunity in market," he told CNET News.com. "Our business is growing so fast that some of our partners are working larger deals. We need an easy on-ramp for customers and easier way for partners to get up and running with CRM."

Microsoft did not disclose pricing for the new service. "We will price competitively with what is in the market," Wilson said.

At the Boston event, Ballmer also discussed Microsoft's priorities for the coming year.

"As a company we're entering into a set of new markets--business intelligence, portals and collaboration market; search, from the desktop to the enterprise to the Internet; unified communications, including voice over IP, mobile and other phone devices."

On the security front, Microsoft is shifting from improving existing products to entering the security market "in full force," Ballmer said.

Vista "air cover"
And then there's Vista, the continually-in-development next version of the Windows operating system.

"Vista, you could say, has been a long time in the making--probably a fair statement. But it's absolutely a blockbuster release," Ballmer said. "We will never have a gap between Windows releases like we have had between Windows XP and Vista again. You can count on it."

Microsoft plans to pull out all the stops for the launch of Vista, scheduled for early 2007. A good uptake by consumers, Ballmer indicated, would bode well for adoption of the software by businesses.

"If we have a strong consumer launch, it creates the air cover where people come in and say we want this at work. So this will get massive air cover at both the consumer level and the business level," he said. "We will have big launches for these products around the turn of the year."

Just when Vista will debut is still uncertain. On Tuesday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said there's an 80 percent chance that Vista will ship in January, and that the company would delay the launch if beta testing revealed significant flaws.

Ballmer also commented on Microsoft's financial performance, with the company's fiscal year having wound down at the end of June. The earnings report for the fourth quarter and the full year is scheduled for July 20.

"We had a good year," he said. "We're waiting to close the books, so I'm not going to make any financial pronouncements. But I say a double thanks in advance of our fiscal-year close. In the era of Sarbanes-Oxley, it gets harder to make these announcements."

In other news, Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new version of its server software targeted at small businesses. Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 will debut next month and will be priced lower than the previous release, said Steven VanRoekel, director of Microsoft's Windows Server solutions group.

The operating system software is aimed at companies with fewer than 100 employees that don't currently have servers on their networks, or are replacing older systems, VanRoekel said. It includes the Windows Server operating system, a slimmed-down version of the Exchange e-mail software, and tools for building intranets.

The new release adds a tool called Green Check for quickly monitoring server security and overall health, as well as built-in software patch update and management tools.

Microsoft said the standard edition of R2 costs $599 and the premium edition, which adds a workgroup version of the SQL Server database along with security and Web site development tools, costs $1,299. Those prices are 13 percent lower than list prices for the previous version, VanRoekel said.

The company also made changes in how it licenses its Office desktop application software. Microsoft said it will for the first time allow PC makers and system builders to pre-install and sell Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, which was previously was sold only at retail.

Also, PC makers are now allowed to install a free 60-day trial of Office on a new PC, and sell Office licenses after the PC purchase. Previously, PC makers were only allowed to sell Office licenses at the time of PC purchase.

Microsoft said more than 50 percent of small businesses purchase Office separately within 60 days of buying a new PC.

See more CNET content tagged:
hosted CRM, Steve Ballmer, CRM, SAP AG, Microsoft Corp.

9 comments

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we need developers, so we can steal more ideas/markets
Steve Ballmer is not the man to run MSFT, Procter & Gamble, new
and improved is all he is about, and right now Microsoft is far
from new and improved. Another Me-too product
announcement, oh Live is now CRM, Office, and who knows what
else. If any developer wants to see his name in the news, just
make a good product and let MSFT see it, then get ready to close
up shop as they claim to integrate it into the next release of
Live, Windows, or Office, or.....iPod, Xbox, IPTV, etc etc etc. A
company with no direction, other than outward in all directions,
is more like a bomb exploding, than a real growth strategy that
anyone can follow. Steer clear of these guys, they are
desperately grabbing at any market, any product, any idea,
trying to lay claim to being the best at something, and so far
they are the best at nothing. And while youre planning what to
do with your time, until Vista shows up, maybe you should go
and buy an Intel Macintosh and learn how things really Work,
without hot air and empty promises from MSFT.
Posted by (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lol
Well, Xbox 360 is a good product, but if it wasn't for IBM and Apple it would not be reality.

IBM provided the CPU, a 3 core design, and since it uses the same CPU at the G5 Power Mac, G5 are used to develop Xbox 360 games on it :- )

How funny is that ?

I like xbox 360, I play it, one day when it get's replaced by Xbox 460, lol, I would like to install OS X on it and run that, it would be sweat.

Sun Solaris 10 has some great new technologies as well, Sun and Apple are my two favorite companies.

Vista from the Beta is disapointing so far, if MS thinks I am going to scrap my computer and spend several $$$ G's on a new one so that Vista can run smoothly, you got another thing coming...

And Office 2007 beta is not that great, all the Menus that people are uesd to were all majorly screwed up, people who buy office and spend $500 + plus on it are not kids 18 who don't mind change every 2 years, these are adults who hate sthese type of BS changes.

Office 2007, if you don't make the menus like they are not, major screwup at the sales, you'll see, that cash cow is about to head to the slotherhouse unless MS takes these complains seriously.

I own Apple G5's and I love them to death, for server I use Linux and Sun, nothing can beat that.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Link Flag
Read deeper on CRM Live
Yep! Microsoft wants ALL of your data running on THEIR servers
and THEIR machines. Under THEIR security. Under THEIR
control.

It never ceases to amaze me at how readily businesses will
simply hand over their critical information to Microsoft, simply
because they say, "it makes your business run better."

Like Barnum said - there's a sucker born every minute - and
TWO to TAKE him!

"The way to take over the world isn't with guns and bombs, but
by controlling information and how it is handled, processed and
disseminated. Control what people can see, hear and read and
you control what they think. Do that and you control the world.
If you add in knowing what they already know and what they are
thinking - you control the world without firing a shot." - Lee
Darrow, June 2, 1974.

I said it back then and now Microsoft is proving it. And no one
is really taking the issue seriously.

Lee Darrow, Chicago, IL
Posted by mstrhypno (49 comments )
Link Flag
The single most inevitable announcement in the history of Microsoft...
is the next feature being removed from Vista and/or the next delay in shipping Vista.


Take your pick.
Posted by ps_martin (191 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Steve Ballmer
Wow! In that picture posted with the CNET story, Ballmer looks like he might be about 75 years old. Of course I don't know his actual age, but he certainly didn't look that way in the pictures I saw of him when he took over from Bill Gates. Maybe Bill Gates was smart to walk (a little way) away when he did....
Posted by Jane in KC (94 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bill made his skid . . .
on the undewear of modern computing. now it's time for more socially responsible challenges. I hope he is as equally gifted at adding to the common good as he's been in detracting from it.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
You missed the 20% chance of delay announcement
The "20% chance of a delay in the release of Vista" was
announced today. You must have missed the headline.

Odd how 20% chances balloon to 100% come the release date...
Posted by mstrhypno (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here it comes...
All the conspiracy, nay sayers, hate the giant mongers, are going to jump on this as another Microsoft take over the world attempt. They already have, BECAUSE they have great, inexpensive products. Keep it up Microsoft. thanks from a statisfied Fortune 500 customer - David Jemeyson
Posted by ccisat1dxj (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
well, just 'cause you asked for it
"We will price competitively with what is in the market," Wilson said - How about pricing realistically, you know, pop 20% ontop of production expenses and call it a win rather than 200% on top of the cost of production per license.

On the security front, Microsoft is shifting from improving existing products to entering the security market "in full force," Ballmer said - translation; we've engineered an oppertunity in the security market with our shotty programming and you can be sure we're going to profit from it.

"We will never have a gap between Windows releases like we have had between Windows XP and Vista again. You can count on it." - translation; we lost alot of money from potential yearly new flavours of the same old Windows. We're going to pull our socks up and insure our hardware vendor contacts are happy with you being forced to upgrade hardware constantly to maintain a steady degree of performance out of our OS. We've given you all a rest, now get back on the Microsoft Developyment Cycle treadmill cause we're going to ramp it up a bunch and see how fast you really can expense.

Before BillySoft's lawyers (or is that now BalmerSoft) come banging on my door; I don't aim to put words in anyone's mouth. This is simply reading between the lines by one humble, disenfranchised and dissallusioned computer power user. I can only hope that in future, IT managers have more luck convincing the people incharge of expenses that there are better options outside of Microsoft proprietary lock-ins. If having your systems development path dictated to you and business information held ransom then this software company is for you then by all means; love Microsoft through every expense account and performance crippled server or workstation you install it on.

And to those who do control business spending; listen to your IT managers, the good ones are always looking to improve your business systems and better align them to your business goals. They realize there are better options outside of being forced to attend the Windows circus but they need your help to break your company's drug addition with the Windows pusher.

Ask yourself some questions:
Why is it that Japan (a nation known for adopting the better option then improving apon things) is now around 70% or more non-windows?

Why is it that IBM (The original business machine brand) finding so many advantages in working with non-windows?

Why is it that the United States intelligence agencies won't allow microsoft products on there networks?

Why is it that the United States Department of Defense total moving to a non-windows architecture?

Why are so many proffessional internet servers not run with Windows/IIS?

Why are all those phone companies looking to including non-windowsCE OS for cell handsets?

How could there possibly have been enough support for OpenDocument format to force Balmerwarez into backing down from the promis of never even consider support for it future Office releases?

Why are you being asked to pay 200$+ for the thin layer of software that sites between the hardware and the application you want to use on it?
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
 

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