Targeted mainly at its value-added reseller (VAR) channel, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Version 4.0 was released to manufacturing this week.
Version 4.0, code-named Titan, will be available in several versions: an on-premises application, a partner or VAR-hosted version plus a version of Dynamics hosted by Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, the Microsoft-hosted deployment.
All versions will share a single code base and the hosted versions use a multi-tenant architecture.
Addressing its new upgrade message to its VAR channel, Microsoft officials said Version 4.0 includes an upgraded version of multi-tenant that will support multiple customers per server.
Other upgrades include a choice of 25 languages and support for multiple currencies and embedded BI capabilities, including an ad hoc reporting wizard that will allow non-technical users to create custom reports.
Version 4.0 will also integrate with Microsoft's unified communications platform, Microsoft Office Communications Server, along with its presence and location features.
Although Microsoft will offer to host a version on its Live platform, the channel is the backbone of its strategy, according to most industry analysts.
Josh Greenbaum, principal analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting,said that the Microsoft channel is so strong in the SME market that it is the envy of all the other software vendors.
"Everyone is trying to steal Microsoft channel partners. If you are an enterprise ISV there is no better and more mature channel than Microsoft," Greenbaum said.
Microsoft and Novell have the two oldest legacy channels in the industry, and Greenbaum called them, "the nuts and bolts wizards."
In a prepared statement, Microsoft said it relies on its strong network of partner companies to bring technology to customers in the SME marketplace, claiming over 400,000 partners.
Dynamics CRM 4.0 is expected to be available in the first quarter.