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The Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) division has set itself an ambitious roadmap, running through calendar 2006. And company officials detailed a number of its upcoming milestones at its worldwide partner conference last month.

Much of MBS’ work will involve stitching together products from Great Plains, Navision, FRx Software and bCentral — all of which are now under the MBS umbrella.

But there are a few major product launches on tap, too. MS CRM 2.0 is currently slated for arrival some time between July and September 2004. Great Plains 8.0 (which Microsoft demonstrated earlier this year at its Convergence customer conference) is slated to go live around the same time (July to September 2004). Microsoft Business Portal 2.0 is on tap for arrival some time between January and March 2004.

Before the end of this calendar year, MBS is slated to ship MS CRM 1.2 (December is the current target); integrate CRM 1.0 and 1.2 into Solomon 5.0 and 5.5; and integrate CRM 1.2 into Great Plains 7.5. Also on tap for later this calendar year: Great Plains 7.5 extensions; FRx 6.5 reporting software integration into Axapta 3.0; and Demand Planner integration into Axapta and Navision. (The Demand Planner integration is being provided by Milan, Italy’s TXT.)

In the first calendar quarter of next year, MBS is on tap to deliver its Business Portal 2.0 release, as well as FRx 6.7 and Demand Planner integration into Great Plains, according to company officials.

In the second calendar quarter of 2004, MBS is slated to roll out Retail Management System 2.0.

In the third quarter of next year, MBS is on the hook to deliver the second release of its MS CRM solution. Also on tap for calendar Q3 is the release of Solomon Standard 6.0, Navision Standard 4.0, Great Plains Standard 8.0 and Small Business Manager 8.0. MBS also is promising FRx 6.7 integration into Axapta, Great Plains and Solomon in that quarter.

Some time in calendar 2006, Microsoft is slated to deliver “Project Green.” MBS officials said next-to-nothing about “Code Green” during their worldwide partner conference presentations. Green is the code name for Microsoft’s integrated ERP suite, consisting of Great Plains, Solomon, Axapta and Navision applications.

MBS is not planning to use the current Great Plains, Solomon, Axapta and Navision applications at all.

“Our strategy is to build the next generation suite from the ground up on the latest Microsoft tools, including Visual Studio,” according to some partner conference litereature. “To accomplish this, we are taking a ‘best of’ approach. For example, we’re leveraging the model ease of use and deployment practices of Navision, the event-based customizations built into Great Plains, the metadata-store technology and object-driven development concepts with Axapta, and Solomon’s visual basic foundation for customization, as well as the more than 20 years of development and domain expertise behind our current solutions.”

Microsoft officials said Green is pegged to hit during the Longhorn wave (2006, they admitted), but that MBS would continue to support the existing Great Plains, Solomon, Axapta and Navision apps through 2013, to give customers time to migrate.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the October 16, 2003, issue of the Microsoft Watch newsletter.