Microsoft Dynamics AX 4 release details

The staff at Microsoft has been busy at the annual convergence event held in Dallas; they have just previewed Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 which will be released in June.

Axapta 4.0 will integrate with SQL Server so users can perform business intelligence (BI) analysis of any data within the application; and SharePoint-based portal technology, which supports their new roles-based user interfaces.

Look and feel will be outlook 2003 and supposed to have a beefed up web services architecture.

There will be wizard tools to help for upgrades and quick setup for new implementations.

Microsoft Dynamics AX info

Microsoft dynamics pricing change

Microsoft is moving to a per user pricing for their ERP systems currently they work on a module basis.

Specific pricing has not been released, but there will be a partner conference in July which should be a good time to sort out the changes in their pricing.

Existing customers will have the option to stay with their current pricing structure or look at the per user pricing ,talk is that customers who have maxed out on the modules from Microsoft’s ERP products will pay less than customers who have taken the core modules?

Integrate Office 2003 with Microsoft Axapta and CRM 3.0

Windows20logo_2 Microsoft has released Microsoft Dynamics Snap, a new collection of software packages that integrate in to Microsoft Office 2003. These four new programs help enable information workers to easily coordinate and manage data in Microsoft Axapta and Microsoft CRM 3.0

The different packages are

  • Timesheet Management Snap-In,

  • Vacation Management Snap-In

  • Business Data Lookup Snap-In for Axapta and CRM 3.0

The software is available from GotDotNet.com 

Microsoft versus Linux

Windows20logo_1Microsoft Corp.'s Linux and open-source lab on the Redmond campus has been running some interesting tests of late, one of which was looking at how well the latest Windows client software runs on legacy hardware in comparison to its Linux competitors. The tests, which found that Windows performed as well as Linux on legacy hardware when installed and run out-of-the-box, were done in part to give Microsoft the data it needed to effectively 'put to rest the myth that Linux can run on anything.'"

The follow up comments argue both points if Microsoft thinks they can use this info for a marketing drive the slashdot geeks would rip them to pieces.

Slashdot feedback

Microsoft extends Axapta's vertical ERP applications

Microsoft has teamed up with their ISV partners and are going to release modules catering for these industries.

Supply Chain Execution

Process Industries

Professional Services

Industrial Equipment Manufacturing

Field Service Automation

Microsoft ERP

Microsoft ERP developers feeling your pain?

Very funny video about real time feedback when your microsoft erp package bombs out

Zap that techie

thanks to onlyonce blog

Microsoft ERP

Microsoft Great Plains gets a new name

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said it is ready to release an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform under the first wave of a broader strategy to embrace Web services for software that runs an array of business tasks on the Internet.
Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0., formerly the Great Plains ERP platform, is scheduled for release on Dec. 19. A "substantial" portion of the base code was changed to deliver the more than 170 enhancements, said Lynne Stockstad, general manager for Microsoft Dynamics GP. "This is a stake in the ground that we are serious about delivering the next generation roadmap."

The most significant change to this platform is the move toward Web services. Software developers who customize the ERP application for customers will have access to code and data objects to integrate features through more than 160 Web services access points. The move to Web services will enable Microsoft to compete more competitively with Oracle Corp. and SAP AG in the enterprise software market segment.

Dynamics GP gives workers the option to modify their computer desktop to better suit tasks from payroll to accounting to procurement. The software will deliver 21 specific feature sets specific to employee roles and functions, Stockstad said. It will allow workers to access reports and queries used most frequently and monitor and receive alerts on key metrics.

The move toward Web services and roll-based processes is expected to drive Microsoft's growth in the mid-market, specifically for companies with up to 499 users. "Web services are all about processes, but you have to focus on the people who use the processes," said Ray Wang, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "The process piece is delivered by Web Services. The people piece is about the role-based scenarios with processes around people. The technology is the platform in which Microsoft is delivering it."

Formerly code-named Project Green, Dynamics will unfold in two phases. In this first wave, Dynamics GP receives an updated user interface to look similar to Microsoft Office. Microsoft is consciously changing the software's look and feel to make it similar to Office in an effort to promote standardization across applications.

The application also will offer Business Analysis Cubes for Microsoft Excel, expanded functions around the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services portal, and deeper integration with the pending release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Visual Studio 2005 extensions were also added to make for easier integration with Dynamics GP. A new Business Portal Executive Center includes access to transactional data and key performance indicators such as interactive graphs, tables, announcements, and reports.

Microsoft plans to make additional upgrades next year and in 2007. The second wave of Dynamics is set to launch in 2008. In that phase, Microsoft will converge several ERP business applications into one code base to merge the products.

ERP Info from informationweek

Microsoft ERP

Microsoft to offer hosted CRM/ERP services?

Microsoft is going after the small end of the market where the companies do not want or have the resources to manage a full blown business system.

Within the next year, Microsoft  is likely to offer hosted implementations of its customer-relationship management (CRM) and enterprise-resource planning (ERP) applications, as well its SharePoint products.
Although the company has not given details on the plan, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has noted that some of the software giant's partners already are doing hosted SharePoint, and that a scheme to widen that usage is in place.

Analysts expect the company to move into hosted CRM and ERP  soon. The market for hosted services for those applications currently is driven by vendors like Salesforce.com  and RightNow Technologies .

During upcoming talks in San Francisco, Gates and one of Microsoft's CTOs, Ray Ozzie, are scheduled to speak at greater length about the company's software-as-service plans.

Although specific details on Microsoft's hosting push have yet to be unveiled, analysts are expecting that the company's strategy will target a range of users with a special emphasis on smaller companies that do not have an I.T. staff.

Also a possibility for the company is outsourced e-mail services. Because of the surge of spam and e-mail-delivered threats, companies have been more focused on how to protect their e-mail through filters.

If Microsoft can implement an e-mail service that takes the burden for such screenings off company I.T. departments, it could find wide adoption.

Customer Service

The move into hosted services could draw more small businesses to Microsoft, especially in the CRM arena, noted AMR Research analyst Rob Bois.

"Small to midsize companies are looking more closely at hosted services for strategies like CRM and ERP," he said. "It makes sense that they would because they can tap in to these applications without having a large, upfront expenditure."

Hosted services in general have been looking more attractive to SMBs, Bois noted, because companies still are keeping their staff numbers low to avoid another dot-bomb scenario.

"Outsourcing, whether you're talking about consultants or services, has become much more accepted and mainstream," he said. Microsoft's move in that direction would be a driver for the hosted market, but it would also be an indication of the direction the industry is already headed.

Microsoft ERP info from CIO

Microsoft ERP

Microsoft Office 12 could help create reports

Microsoft said thursday that it will introduce new XML-based file formats for its Excel, PowerPoint and Word applications when the company launches its Office 12 software package next year.

Company officials said the move to replace Microsoft's traditional binary file formats with open-standards-based XML versions will allow companies using Office 12 to more easily access data across XML's various applications.

Microsoft pledged that the shift to XML will decrease the size of many individual files and make documents created in its Office products more resistant to corruption.

While Microsoft's Excel and Word programs already offer some XML compatibility, the new formats will bring those applications, and PowerPoint, into a "full fidelity" version of the standard, said Takeshi Numoto, senior director for the Microsoft Office System.

The biggest advantage of the new formats, Numoto said, will be their capacity to allow workers to access data from various documents without opening individual files, and to allow workers to use that information in new ways.

"You can dream of many scenarios to integrate documents with multiple back-end data sources and line-of-business sources," Numoto said. "You could have Excel connected to sales data on a back-end system. This is a situation where the line between content and data becomes blurred."

The company said the new files will be compatible with its existing documents, and promised that it will distribute a free downloadable "converter" that allows users of Office 2000 and later versions of its productivity software to work with the new formats. Customers will have the option to not use the new files in Office 12, but the XML formats will be set as defaults in the three applications when the package ships, sometime in the second half of 2006.

In addition, when a person using one of the new Office formats opens and edits a document created in the old system, the file will be saved in the format in which it was originally created in an effort to simplify compatibility. The file extension names for the new formats will add a letter "x" to Microsoft's existing naming conventions, such that a document created in Word will have the suffix ".docx" added to its title.

The announcement marks the latest effort by Microsoft to adopt XML throughout its business software lines, an initiative that has been maturing since the company first said it would license the XML-based file formats used in its Office 2003 release. More recently, the firm announced that it had committed in perpetuity to offering a royalty-free license of Office-related XML document formats.

Info from zdnet UK

Microsoft ERP

Microsoft renames their ERP bundles

Microsoft thinks it's figured out what kind of software midsized companies need to run their finance, sales, and other operations. And it's not what it’s been trying to sell them. So today, it laid out a change of strategy for its 5-year-old business software division.
The new direction, around which it's pinned large hopes for future growth, centers on a simple but so far elusive idea: Different kinds of workers in a company use PCs differently. At an event on the company's Redmond, Wash. campus today, Microsoft officials planned to detail the new approach for its $800-million-a-year Business Solutions group. The concept is that applications should be tailored to an employee's role in a company.

Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates said the company is investing in midmarket apps--where it lost more than $200 million last year--for the long term. "Applications can be way better than they are today," Gates said in an interview with InformationWeek. "We are putting a lot of R&D dollars into the business, and that's because we believe it can be a much bigger business. We can have a much higher share of the business than we have today."

After two years of market research, Microsoft managers have identified more than 50 everyday job roles at midsize companies they say will benefit from desktop environments created just for them--everything from a president or CFO, to account managers in a sales department, to line workers on a factory floor. Instead of dozens of screens and menus, those workers will get Web pages that show only the information they are most likely to care about, often at a glance. Companies will be able to customize those entry points into Microsoft's applications, too. Microsoft plans to deliver two dozen of these role-based applications this fall as part of upgrades to its Great Plains ERP software line and to its customer relationship management package. Next year, it plans to roll out 25 more for its Axapta and Navision business ERP Software applications.

The new software spans a broad array of job titles that extends well beyond IT and operations managers that tend to run enterprise resource planning software. It's a reflection of new workplace realities in which PC data gets consumed by nearly all workers. It's also an effort to catch Microsoft up to its toughest competitors in the ERP software market, Oracle and SAP.

Microsoft's new roles-based apps are part of a broader mid-market push being unveiled today that will include a future Windows server package, code-named Centro, that combines the Longhorn version of Window server with forthcoming versions of Exchange and SQL Server in a no-frills platform designed to be run by the IT generalists common in the companies with under 1,000 employees. They're the "inch-deep, mile-wide" IT staffer, says Microsoft director Steve Van Roekel. "Anything with a plug and a wire, they support."

The company is rebranding its four ERP software lines—Axapta, Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon—as Microsoft Dynamics. New versions of the Dynamics products will incorporate new search technology Microsoft's building, as well as integrate data analysis and report-writing functions from its SQL Server database. Microsoft will unveil new licensing and financing options for midsize companies, and new incentives for them to enroll in its Software Assurance maintenance agreement. And the company released a new lower-priced accounting package, Small Business Accounting 2006, to attack Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks software.

Small business is just the kind of market Microsoft loves: fragmented, and still largely untapped. Selling software to companies with more than 50, but less than 1,000 employees looks like a rich opportunity. There are more than 1.4 million midsized companies with PCs worldwide, according to Microsoft, and collectively they own 68 million PCs and 4.8 million servers. That's a lot of hardware to fill. They spent $215 billion on software and IT services last year, and that's expected to grow to $306 billion in 2009. And even though they're smaller, midmarket companies are facing many of the same pressures as larger ones: Global markets for goods and labor that are pushing down prices, customers who demand more personalized service, and expensive government regulations.

"A $4 billion company doesn't necessarily do things that are more complex than [our customers], though they may do more of it," says Greg Carter, a VP at Iteration2, an Irvine, Calif. reseller of Axapta, Solomon, and Microsoft CRM. New role-based user interfaces in Axapta can make the software less intimidating for midsize companies, he says. "In the old days, you'd see 100 different menu items on your desktop." Role-based UI's "really make the application easier to learn."

Microsoft acquired Great Plains ERP Software in 2001, followed by its purchase of a second ERP software developer, the Danish company Navision, in 2002. Each of those companies had previously made acquisitions of their own. As a result, Microsoft Business Solutions found itself with four ERP software suites--Great Plains, Solomon, Navision, and Axapta--that sometimes overlap in function, and whose resellers are sometimes knocking on the same doors.

Microsoft Business Solutions remains a money loser, and sales growth has been relatively modest for the past few quarters—up 5.8% last year, to $803 million in revenue, with a loss of $201 million. Microsoft officials hope the roles-based application strategy will bring some spark to the business.

Gates compares Microsoft's investment in business apps to its ventures in Internet TV, just now resulting in large deals, and database software, where the company is taking aim at being No. 1. "Microsoft probably has the longest term horizon for big things we do than any company you can think of," says Gates. "Every new version we bring out we believe will drive our share."

Microsoft's new roles-based approach to ERP software isn't unique. Oracle and SAP have been tailoring their apps to customers' job roles for years. "If you're not doing this, you're a second-rate vendor compared with Oracle and SAP," says Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting.

Compared with Oracle and SAP, Microsoft's share of the overall ERP software market remains small--projected to be just 4% this year, according to market research company AMR Research, vs. 43% for SAP and 19% for Oracle. "Our systems have been role-based since Day One," says Frank Prestipino, VP of global enterprise applications marketing at Oracle. "Microsoft's challenge is they have a number of different products that overlap."

Microsoft is taking steps to simplify its product line and turn its resellers' knowledge of their specialty markets into a bigger asset. The company is only heavily promoting two lines—Axapta and either Great Plains or Navision—in most countries. And Microsoft this year introduced a new program called the "Industry Builder Initiative" that lets a handful of partners whose customized modules for Business Solutions apps pass muster add their software to the Microsoft price list that's available to all its resellers. "It gives us a chance to put our product in the strongest channel in the world," says Iteration2 VP Carter.

Microsoft's role-based apps could also give it a financial lift by letting it sell more licenses for users who don't traditionally touch such programs. "In the past, you'd have a supply chain optimization system for the operations management pencil heads. Now you can deliver some of it to the call center rep who can say, 'Where's my order?'" says analyst Greenbaum. "This is Microsoft catching up to the rest of the industry."

Info from informationweek

Microsoft ERP