Microsoft rebrands, relaunches Great Plains, CRM

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Microsoft has rebranded and relaunched its Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) range under a different name the vendor believes will give partners a marketing edge.

Claire Kennedy, Dynamics GP product manager at Microsoft Australia, said the vendor was rebranding its Microsoft Business Solutions offerings as Microsoft Dynamics.

Great Plains would become Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft CRM would become Microsoft Dynamics CRM, she said.

"Customers can relate to a product name like Microsoft Dynamics," she said.

Microsoft Business Solutions had been "somewhat of an exception" among Microsoft offerings because it wasn't so product-focused. The new name would better express what it actually offered and that should help partners, Kennedy said.

She said the company was working with partners and customers to ensure the name change would cause little confusion. Microsoft's research suggested the change would work out better for everyone long term, she said.

"We're bringing it out in a new launch and spending a lot of time with partners beforehand, and talking about where the product is developing," Kennedy said.

GP had been "selling well", she claimed, but refused to provide any statistics or numbers that might back up that claim to sales growth.

GP had some 39,000 customers worldwide, she said.

Microsoft was launching its third version of CRM and its ninth version of GP as it publicised its rebranding. Both releases had new functionality that should spark interest, Kennedy said.

Errol Schoenfish, director of product management at Microsoft, said GP 9.0 had 170 new features, including an improved user interface that "looked more like" Microsoft software so would be more familiar to many customers.

"We've released role-based home pages," he added. "We've developed 22 role-based home pages specific to a type of user."

Different home pages would suit different users, such as account managers or accounts payable clerks, Schoenfish said.

"The other thing was integration. With this particular release, we're delivering web services along with some Visual Studio components that allow customers or partners -- specifically ISVs -- to customise the solution through an industry-standard tool," Schoenfish said.

Brad Wilson, general manager of CRM at Microsoft, said CRM 3.0 had new list, campaign, response and resource management features. "This is pre-built out of the box," he said.

"The second big functionality thing is service scheduling -- a part of the application that really simplifies complex scheduling tasks," Wilson said.

The platform itself was also "tremendously" upgraded. "You can create new system entities for objects," Wilson said. "Automatically generate web services interfaces for it."

Microsoft CRM had about 5500 customers worldwide, Wilson said.

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