On July 12th it was announced in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2010) that there will be no CRM 5.0, instead we will have a product called Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Not a huge surprise, considering the other Dynamics products like AX and NAV had already moved to this naming convetion followed by the Office family for quite some time now (actually 15 years, if we exclude the odd Office XP release in the middle).
So much for the branding. Underneath it all we will have the “CRM5″ engine evolving from CRM 4.0, with quite a few important improvements on how the application can be utilized as a platform for developing your own custom applications, a.k.a. the XRM mantra that Microsoft has been heavily promoting and showcasing between the product version releases. While this side of the coin will surely play an important part in gradually turning Dynamics CRM into part of the core enterprise infrastructure like SharePoint has become, the first thing most new users will see from the application will still be the Outlook client and traditional customer data management functionality. Which is why there have been some big investments from the Redmond boys on developing that side of the CRM product, as you can see from the picture below.
Instead of merely wrapping the web client page into an Outlook frame, the new rich client interface introduces whole new components that attempt to follow the faimilar Outlook UI experience. Tabs will help in keeping the number of pop-up windows under control while the preview pane we’ve learned to take for granted in processing our email inboxes is now also available in the scope of CRM entity forms. Since Dynamics CRM 2011 now comes with the ribbon interface like most other MS products, the CRM functionality now blends into the Outlook toolbar and gets presented in all its context sensitive glory. (more…)