Microsoft's slashes prices for Salesforce.com competitor (and DIYPC)

Where is Wednesday's IT Blogwatch? In Denver, where Microsoft launches a Salesforce.com-killer. Not to mention building Scott Hanselman's ridiculously fast PC...

Marc L. Songini reports
:

Years after nimble upstarts like Salesforce.com Inc. broke ground in the on-demand CRM business, Microsoft Corp. is finally set to launch its own, much anticipated hosted offering today at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver. The offering from Microsoft's Business Solutions unit is based on the next version of its packaged CRM application, code-named Titan, which is due to ship in the fourth quarter.
...
The hosted service will come in two versions -- Professional and Enterprise Editions. The Professional Edition will include all the customization, sales, service and workflow capabilities of the Titan software. The service will be offered without charge through the end of 2007, and then will be priced at $39 per user per month during 2008 and $44 thereafter ... The Enterprise Edition includes the same capabilities and allows users to continue working in an application independently of the service. Once the user logs back on to CRM Live, the data on the laptop is automatically synchronized with the online database ... available in April 2008 ... at $59.
...
Microsoft's entry into the hosted CRM business comes eight years after the debut of Salesforce.com's service, which now claims some 30,000 customers and a wide variety of available add-on applications. Oracle Corp. also offers a hosted CRM product  while NetSuite Inc. offers integrated on-demand ERP and CRM applications. [read more]

Joe Weisenthal rattles his change:

Much to the chagrin of its rivals, Microsoft has never been hesitant to compete aggressively on price. In fact, its willingness to be brutal on pricing has drawn some of the loudest antitrust accusations over the years. Microsoft looks set to go down this road again, as it has announced prices for its new on-demand CRM Live service that are well below the equivalent at Salesforce.com. Even with the cut-rate prices, it's going to be a challenge for Microsoft to make it big in this market. Salesforce.com has proven popular among small and medium-sized businesses and it's already started developing an ecosystem around its services through its AppExchange program. [read more]

James Moody has the 411:

Dynamics Live CRM will be released to customers early for a trial period before switching to a paid subscription per user model. Trial users will get to test drive the Professional version of the offering, with an Enterprise version coming in 2008. Pricing will be competitive with other offerings on the market. Testing is expected to begin this quarter so head over to read more]

Kenneth van Surksum clarifies:

Microsoft ... downplayed one key piece of news that may spook partners: Customers will be able to buy CRM Live directly from Microsoft, with no partner involvement.

Microsoft is in the process of introducing a CRM Live early adopter preview program, to which access will only be opened to customers working with select channel partners. But when CRM Live formally launches for general availability in the first half of 2008, it will be available directly. [read more]
David Hunter strategises:
Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM ... puts the partner-hosted version in the shade as we’ve mentioned previously. Some balm for that wound is that partners can earn 10% of the recurring Live CRM subscription fees when they sell it to customers. The on-premise and partner-hosted versions will be available to those that still want it in the fourth quarter of 2007.
...
Although it’s version 1.0 and will take some time to get up to speed, the target of Dynamics Live CRM is obviously Salesforce.com. [read more]
But, as Todd Bishop discovered, Salesforce.com isn't worried:
Microsoft's list prices are lower than Salesforce.com's list prices. But via phone this afternoon, [Bruce Francis, vice president of corporate strategy at Salesforce.com] explained why he's not concerned: "What it looks like is that Microsoft is just marking down an inferior product to what customers are actually paying right now. Also, one thing that I haven't seen is the url where I can sign up for a 30-day trial. ... I know a great multi-tenant on-demand service when I see one, and I see more of them every day. ... We could talk for hours about all the great on-demand services that are out there that I can sign up and use. Where is Microsoft? Microsoft has a price list, not a product." [read more]
And Alex Barnett asks about the APIs:
Where is the news of Dynamics Live CRM web / SaaS APIs? No mention of these anywhere that I've seen, but if Microsoft wants to take on Salesforce.com they'll need a strong story here - the latter has a mature programmable surface today with a fairly healthy ecosystem of developers.

It's one thing to have on-premises software that can be extended and integrated with other software and services through SOAP APIs behind your firewall (Dynamics has a healthy story in this department today), but it is quite another (increasingly necessary) thing to provide APIs as part of a hosted SaaS service. I would have thought the provisioning of SaaS APIs would have been a central component of Microsoft's messaging today so am a little surprised by its omission. [read more]
Buffer overflow:
Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch
And finally... Building a "ridiculously fast" PC: part I and part II
Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon