Microsoft is revamping and renaming its Business Solutions division and has introduced a range of new ERP applications and a package of system-management tools.
The newly named Microsoft Dynamics application platform (previously Project Green), comes with parts of Centro - the Longhorn version of Windows Server with IT management.
"The goal is to talk to our customers about Microsoft's vision for delivering solutions in the mid-market," said James Utzschneider, general manager for the mid-market group at Microsoft. "This is a very large market that is largely underserved."
Microsoft believes these users have suffered because the industry has forced the incompatible packages of ERP and personal productivity software on them. "These worlds really don't work well together," Utzschneider said.
ERP and CRM have largely failed to deliver on productivity promises, and in some instances required customers to send employees to training classes for one to two weeks, he said.
With Dynamics, Microsoft combines business process automation with productivity software. The company claims to have identified 50 different types of employee, each of which will have their own role-based desktop.
Microsoft Dynamics will comprise the ERP packages currently called Great Plains, Axapta, Navision, and Solomon. They will evolve into a single product line with one code base starting in 2008. The Dynamics brand will replace Microsoft Business Solutions.
Basing the four ERP products on a common framework makes sense, said analyst Chris Alliegro, of Directions on Microsoft. "If you look at the existing ERP product lines, there's quite a bit of functional overlap," he said.