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Dynamics Takes Center Stage at Microsoft Conference

Microsoft showed off its plans to increase the reach of its Dynamics product portfolio with the introduction of several new products today at its annual Convergence 2007 conference in San Diego.

The announcements included the release of Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step, a new tool set for implementation, migration and upgrades and Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server, a new low-cost licensing package the company said makes Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions available to more employees via familiar tools.

The software giant also announced the upcoming availability of Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 and Microsoft Dynamics SL 7.0.

Microsoft  also announced a new online finance community it described as a kind of "MySpace for finance professionals." Potential users include company controllers, finance managers, finance staff and accountants. Blogs, rich forums tagging, syndication and other interactive tools will be part of the new online community.

"We want to take the power of all the Web 2.0 technologies and help you form rich relationships," said Satya Nadella, corporate vice president of Microsoft's business division, in remarks that were webcast.

With the Dynamics updates and new products, Microsoft said it will offer companies wider access to data trapped in ERP systems. Microsoft cited an AMR Research estimate that 85 percent of the employees in organizations that have deployed an ERP system are not licensed to use the data and information in those systems.

"This is a major step forward in the quest to make a hundred percent of all people in the organization have access to information," said Nadella.

Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office and Windows SharePoint Services is priced at $195 per user. Microsoft Dynamics Clint for Microsoft Office and Sharepoint Server is $395 per users and includes a collection of up to 12 self-service applications built in Office and Sharepoint.

Also included is an enterprise license for Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 and access rights to all the information and processes managed by a Microsoft Dynamics ERP system.

Nadella said Microsoft is continuing its 'software plus services' plans with the announcement that Microsoft Dynamics solutions will be complemented by hosted services provided by Microsoft and its partners. The idea is to help businesses reach out more comprehensively to their suppliers and customers via the Web. The first example of such an offering from Microsoft Dynamics will be Dynamics Live CRM.

Also announced at Convergence was RoleTailored, a user-experience design approach by Microsoft that builds on the look and feel of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. One example, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, offers access to reports, forms and processes for managing sales, marketing and customer service from within Office Outlook.

Michael Hickins contributed to this report.