Microsoft launches CRM Online

Microsoft's on-demand CRM application is now available, and the company is taking aim at Salesforce.com.

Microsoft today made available its on-demand CRM application.

Microsoft CRM Online, formerly Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, is the company's own foray into on-demand or Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM. Microsoft had previously offered on-demand CRM through its partners, but this application will be housed and managed by Microsoft.

"Microsoft is investing more than $1 billion annually in data centers, and CRM Online is part of that," said Brad Wilson, general manager for Microsoft CRM. "We're trying to redefine the price-to-value equation for on-demand CRM."

More than 500 customers have taken part in the early-adopter program, Wilson said, with an average of 15 users each. Another 300 partners and 150 independent software vendors also participated in the beta program. The full application is now available, right on target with Microsoft's schedule.

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"We had talked about the spring and Q2, but we were always gunning for April," Wilson said. "We're thrilled to announce its availability."

Microsoft is encouraging customers to implement the application through partners, partnering with Google to bring Google Apps to its CRM application. The move brought Google collaboration and productivity tools to a fully on-demand environment and serves as an alternative to Microsoft's Office.

"We've certainly been anticipating that for a long time," Wilson said of the Google-Salesforce.com relationship. "Our strategy from day one, five years ago, was to marry CRM with personal productivity applications. If anything, this validates our long-standing strategy."

Wilson also noted that Microsoft already offers integration between its CRM application and Outlook, its ubiquitous email application.

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