Siebel Systems has released an updated version of its Professional Edition, a lower-cost version of its CRM software.

Siebel Professional Edition 7.8 deepens the software's connection to Microsoft's Office, adding integration with Sharepoint collaboration tools and allowing users to access Siebel contacts direct and appointments from Microsoft Outlook. The new version also introduces integration with Siebel Contact OnDemand, Siebel's hosted software for call routing and other telephone communications infrastructure.

Siebel's Professional Edition was launched in early 2000. The package includes Siebel's sales, service and marketing software, with other functionality available as add-on modules. Its price tag is US$995 per user, about half the cost of Siebel's enterprise CRM software, which allows greater scalability.

Siebel's future is somewhat uncertain right now because of its pending acquisition by Oracle, expected to close early next year. Rob Reid, Siebel's SMB group vice president said he didn't expect any major shakeups for Siebel's Professional Edition, however.

"I can?t speculate on what will happen, but I do not believe that we will be any different than we are now," Reid said.