Microsoft plans to expand the number of countries where it offers the hosted version of its Dynamics CRM product, which has proved popular in the US and Canada where it is already offered.

Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management) Online will be offered in Western Europe and parts of Asia in the second half of next year, said Marie Huwe, general manager for Microsoft Dynamics marketing.

Microsoft won't reveal the countries that will be first to get Dynamics CRM Online, but "this is a very important strategic priority for us, so we are being as aggressive as possible," Huwe said.

Sales of Dynamics CRM Online have been strong despite the recession, growing about 40 percent last year, Huwe said.

The on-premise version of Dynamics CRM is sold through Microsoft's partners, but Microsoft hosts the online version in its own data centres. The company has been strengthening its data centre capabilities in Europe and recently announced the opening of a 550,000-square-foot one in Dublin.

That data centre, which hosts some of Microsoft's consumer applications, will also be used to host business applications, including Dynamics CRM Online, Huwe said.

Microsoft is kicking off a one day customer conference called Convergence in London, which is dedicated to its Dynamics line.

The company is also hosting one day Convergence conferences in Vienna, Frankfurt and Rotterdam. All have sold out, Huwe said. The company used to hold longer Convergence conferences but opted this year to do shorter, one day conferences, which also makes it less expensive for companies to send representatives.