Microsoft pledges ongoing ERP upgrades

Customers of Microsoft's ERP products can expect new releases for "years to come", the company says.

At an event in Melbourne for its Australasian resellers Microsoft outlined the future of the four ERP products - Axapta, Great Plains, Navision and Solomon, all of which it acquired in the past two years.

Former Great Plains executive Dave O'Hara, now Microsoft's Asia-Pacific head of business solutions, says Microsoft will continue to develop the four products and keep them separate for some time to come.

"They are all going through major releases, and releases are planned for after that."

Microsoft plans to introduce new business solutions products based on its .Net technology and integrate those into the four. These include CRM, business portal, retail management system and professional services automation software.

The division created in July and responsible for the products - Microsoft Business Solutions - is optimising the Microsoft .Net framework for business applications development, the result of which will be called Microsoft Business Framework. In three years all Microsoft business solutions products will be built on the Business Framework, O'Hara says.

Great Plains customer TPF Restaurants, which is the New Zealand franchisee of Burger King, hasn't noticed any change since Microsoft acquired the product in 2000.

"We deal with our reseller, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu," says TPF Restaurants group finance manager Matt Buckeridge, "and we haven't found any change really. It does give us added comfort that Microsoft will continue to develop the product and they're not going to fall over at any time. It's the power of the brand."

Buckeridge says TPF Restaurants was "burned" with its last financial system - a small New Zealand developed product called Axis. "It was bought out by an Australian company, Majic, but towards the end the support in New Zealand was non-existent."

Microsoft acquired Great Plains, which had earlier bought Solomon Software, in 2001. In 2002 it bought Navision to make up for Great Plain's lack of presence in Europe. O'Hara say its bread and butter is the midrange market.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has decided to extend its plan to lend money to New Zealand customers to finance IT solutions. Six weeks ago in the US it set up Microsoft Capital, which has lent more than $US20 million in its first 40 days.

- Malcolm travelled to Melbourne courtesy of Microsoft.

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