Microsoft promises update on expansion of CRM Online

Microsoft later this year will reveal more about its plans to expand CRM Online outside North America.

Later this year, Microsoft will reveal more about its plans for expanding Dynamics CRM Online to countries outside the U.S. and Canada, a company executive said Wednesday at the Convergence conference in New Orleans.

Microsoft is purposely taking its time rolling out the on-demand application, said Brad Wilson, general manager of CRM (customer relationship management).

"The product's ten-and-a-half months old. It's a young product," he said of CRM Online. "And we're trying to make sure we've got the right infrastructure in place to support it. ... We're just taking a very deliberate approach and making sure the product is ready to go into dozens and dozens of countries."

Microsoft hosts CRM Online itself and sells to customers directly. The software is based on the same codebase as Dynamics CRM 4.0, which is available in on-premises and partner-hosted form. Currently, Microsoft partners in other countries provide hosted Dynamics CRM, but not Microsoft itself.

Wilson did not provide any specific country release dates or rollout schedules.

CRM Online has been "doing fine" in terms of sales since its launch in April 2008, according to Wilson, although he declined to provide specific figures. The company will probably discuss CRM Online customer adoption rates later this year, he said.

That said, this week Microsoft sweetened the pot significantly for existing and potential customers of the service.

A promotional pricing deal offers Convergence attendees as many as 20 users at US$9.99 per user per month for six months. Microsoft also announced that CRM Online will have a 99.9 percent service-level agreement that gives customers a month's credit in the event of any unplanned outages.

"We want people to try it," Wilson said of the discount offer. "We thought we'd try to draw more attention to it and make it an impossible deal to refuse."

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