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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2013 Rollout Begins

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Posted October 7, 2013 By Pedro Hernandez     Feedback

Having already appeared for users in certain regions, the update to Microsoft's cloud-based CRM offering, code-named Orion, hits the U.S. this week.

Microsoft announced Oct. 7 that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2013, formerly Orion, has been given the green light in some regions.

As promised by the software maker on July 2, Dynamics CRM Online 2013 is on track for a fall release. Indeed, the cloud-based customer relationship management platform is already in use. Simon Hutson, a member of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM sales team in the U.K., announced in a blog post that the update "is now live in our EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] datacenters. (APAC [Asia-Pacific] datacentres went live last week, and Americas will go live later this week.)"

Dynamics CRM 2013 and its cloud-based counterpart offer features aimed at helping sales and customer service organizations better engage with a new generation of educated, social-media-savvy business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) customers, according to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Vice President Bob Stutz. He noted that in today's marketplace, "customers are almost 60 percent through the sales cycle before they actually make contact with the company that they are researching."

"At Microsoft Dynamics, we have reimagined our CRM solution to address these shifting fundamentals, giving your people the tools they need to be successful. To us, this means making business personal," he stated. Users are greeted with a "completely reimagined" interface that surfaces in-context information and helps streamline workflows.

Yammer-powered social enterprise networking features encourage collaboration among team members. Tablet users are assisted by touch-friendly navigation and other interface elements on both the Web interface and mobile apps. Lync and Skype support allow users to place calls directly from the software. Rounding out the platform's capabilities is Office 2013 integration, particularly Outlook.

Dynamics CRM Online 2013 also "includes several, out-of-the-box, business processes, which you can use to get started quickly," Hutson said. Although they can be easily uninstalled, "spend some time 'playing' with them in order to get a feel for how the new business process flows can improve the way you use CRM," he advised.

While embarking on the transition, users will need to be aware of a "couple of caveats." Currently, the "Get CRM for Outlook" bar generates an error when clicked. "This is just a temporary situation until we release the on-premises version of CRM 2013 later this month," wrote Hutson, indicating that the installable software version of Dynamics CRM 2013 is also nearing release. Efforts to download the mobile apps for Windows 8 or Apple iTunes will provide similarly fruitless.

Windows XP users face bigger problems. Underscoring the company's plans to cut support for the aging operating system on April 8, 2014, the Microsoft warned in a TechNet support document that running Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook or the Web app on Windows XP is not supported. Likewise, organizations still using Office 2003, Exchange Server 2003, Internet Explorer 7 and assorted other past-their-prime software offerings from Microsoft can expect to run into issues.

Originally published on eWeek.

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