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Microsoft set to ship Great Plains successor

Microsoft set to ship Great Plains successor

Microsoft Corp.'s Business Solutions group next month plans to release the first iteration of its much-touted retooled and rebranded set of ERP applications, Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0.

The application, due to ship on Dec. 19, is the successor to the company's flagship Great Plains suite. The software has been tweaked to better utilize Microsoft's desktop, portal, business intelligence and development technologies, the company said.

Paulette Volf, senior accounting project manager at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, said she plans to implement the new software early next year to take advantage of its enhanced procurement and requisitioning capabilities.

The orchestra now runs Great Plains 8.0 accounts payable, fixed assets and general ledger software. Volf said GP 9.0 will be enabled with a security access feature to help cut down on errors because it will ensure that managers making requisitions will see only relevant ordering codes.

The Dynamics GP software is part of Microsoft's so-called Project Green, which will ultimately create a unified set of application software with a common code base and interface. Microsoft began to detail Project Green, now called Dynamics, last spring at its Convergence 2005 user conference but has not disclosed a completion date.

The company will follow up with similar updated versions of applications, including Microsoft CRM and Axapta, over the next few months.

Integration to the Desktop

The integration with widely used Microsoft desktop technologies gives the vendor an advantage in competing with rivals like Salesforce.com Inc. for ERP business in midsize companies and in small divisions of large companies, said Judy Sweeney, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc.

On the other hand, Sweeney expects Microsoft's indirect sales model to hamper its efforts to penetrate large organizations.

"Large companies want Microsoft to put more skin in the game," she said. "They don't want a lot of partner products and support from multiple vendors."

GP 9.0 will offer 21 separate, preconfigured role-based interfaces, said Lynne Stockstad, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics GP. The interfaces will have a Microsoft-style desktop look that's designed to allow end users to perform functions with minimal training. It will include separate interfaces for customer service, operations, finance, human resources and IT roles.

The software also comes bundled with business intelligence enhancements to enable access to transactional data and provide analysis and reporting capabilities, Stock-stad said.

Dynamics GP 9.0 is priced from US$3,500 for a single-user Standard Edition.

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