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New MBS support plan could allay ‘Project Green’ worries

Microsoft hopes to ease concerns about its ERP migration plans by extending minimum support on all four product lines for another five years.

“The longer support pledge should put any worries about Microsoft’s ERP roadmap to rest, says Barb Edson, senior director of Microsoft Dynamics marketing.

Net, net, net, this means that the four ERP lines, which Microsoft had already promised to support till 2013, will be supported for an additional five years. “By saying we’re committed to all four products, across all four lines, the message is ‘pick whichever is the best fit and we’ll keep investing in it,” Edson said.

Five years ago, Microsoft’s stated its “Project Green” plan to converge its four ERP code bases into one. But continuing confusion around the strategy caused many customers to hold off on upgrading the products they already had. And partners didn’t like that one darn bit.

It didn’t help when rumors cropped up a that Axapta (aka Microsoft Dynamics AX) was going to be the de facto converged code base. “That killed Great Plains sales,” said on long time Great Plains (Dynamics GP) partner.

So, Microsoft is using its Convergence conference in Copenhagen to reassure all constituencies that Solomon, Great Plains, Axapta and Navision will continue to be updated and supported into the foreseeable future.

There have been glitches for the Microsoft Business Division’s biz apps push. For one thing, the company’s rebranding of the products isn’t hugely popular. (Ask any Great Plains or Axapta or Navision or Solomon partner if they prefer Dynamics GP or AX or NAV or SL, and you’ll see what I mean). And while Mcirosft pledges “love” to all four ERP lines, it offloaded Solomon development to a third party. That hasn’t kept Solomon, make that Dynamics SL partners, very warm and fuzzy.

And there is some concern among MBS partners about how high a priority ERP and CRM in Microsoft’s own world view as the company seems obsessed with Google and its search domination, for example.

Meanwhile, SAP keeps investing in Business One for the mid market, and Intuit, which has repeatedly staved off Microsoft in so-ho accounting is coming up market with Quickbooks Enterprise. It even unveiled its own SMB partner program last week and has lured several Microsoft ERP partners to participate. One said Intuits pricing gives the VAR entry into accounts that cannot afford the typically $10,000 to $15,000 entry price for a Microsoft solution.

But back to Convergence. At the show Microsoft will pledge to give partners and customers advanced notice of roadmap changes and tweaks 12 to 18 months in advance.

And it will extend its solution financing option-which lets partners finance hardware, software and services at low rates-into European markets.

Total Solution Financing, already available in the U.S., lets partner parse out customer payments into affordable monthy chunks at low interest rates. Leasing terms range fom 12 to 60 months. Monthly payments can be as low as 50 euros a month.

Last month, Microsoft brought business apps support into the overall fold.

Barbara Darrow, a Boston area freelancer, can be reached at

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