Microsoft is moving closer to releasing Dynamics CRM Live, code-named Titan, its response to the market threat posed by Salesforce.com and other software-as-a-service providers.
According to an article in Microsoft Certified Professional, the CRM product will become widely available later this year, following testing by 300 partners that is going on now and a forthcoming pre-release to another 1,000 partners.
Microsoft has been tinkering with Dynamics CRM -- not always successfully -- for quite some time.
Plans call for Titan to be available via three subscription models: a traditional on-premise installation, hosted by Microsoft's channel partners, or hosted by Microsoft itself.
While Microsoft's take is that this will offer customers more choices than they can get from SaaS providers like Salesforce, a Salesforce exec says it will only serve to confuse potential customers.
Pundits are predicting that Microsoft may also be planning a SaaS version of its Dynamics ERP products, which were recently beefed up with more common interfaces and shared code, as well as a desktop Dynamics client that allows folks to work without exiting Office applications.
Microsoft is trying hard to make tight integration with its flagship Office, Windows Vista and SharePoint products a big part of the Dynamics story.
Salesforce.com isn't the only company Microsoft sees as it peers over its shoulder. As always, it has to worry about that pesky Google.
Plans for the Dynamics line are beginning to firm up just as third parties grow increasingly interested in Google Apps. A company called Etelos recently rolled out the first CRM application created for Google Apps.
While it offers no more than "bare-bones" functionality, according to this TechNewsWorld article, it spotlights developers' interest in partnering with Google -- driven by users' apparent fondess for the search giant.