Microsoft just announced the release of a number of new templates for its Dynamics CRM that tailors the customer relationship management software to fit a number of lucrative verticals. It also announced details of a new pricing deal that will bundle it with Office 365.

Competitive Offering

The result is a significantly extended Dynamics CRM that should give it an edge in a highly competitive CRM Market where Salesforce has been the top dog for a very long time.

Microsoft made the announcement this morning at Microsoft's Convergence 2013 EMEA event in Barcelona, Spain. The 18 new predefined and configurable process templates will cover the health care and sports management verticals, as well as some other obscure industries like prison inmate data management.

Microsoft also confirmed that it has introduced new touch-optimized capabilities, which means that all the templates will be accessible through Windows Phones, iPhones and Android phones.

The Office 365 bundle is an interesting one and smacks of the kind of convergence that Microsoft was talking about when it announced its restructuring plans in August.

Those plans aim to make Microsoft into a company that is more streamlined, agile and interactive across its different departments. If this announcement is not part of the restructuring itself, then it is at least part of the wider Microsoft move towards agility.

In her keynote speech this morning, Business Solutions VP Kirill Tatarinov outlined the business focus:

Learning Opportunities

This is truly the era of the customer where people are more informed and better connected than ever. Businesses urgently need solutions to unite and empower their people so they can best serve and nurture their customers ... Microsoft is positioned to deliver agile, integrated business solutions that will help organizations in this new era by delivering amazing customer experiences."

It is hard to see what is driving the Office 365-Dynamics CRM bundling except perhaps Microsoft’s drive to push Office 365 into every corner of the enterprise.

Under the bundling deal, new and existing Office 365 customers can get 40 percent off the prices of Dynamics CRM licenses in 42 markets globally. However, you will have to be quick because the offer expires at the end of March 2014. That begs the question: What set of numbers is Microsoft trying to boost with the bundle?

Dynamics AX Release Date

The Office 365 was not the only announcement this morning. Microsoft also confirmed that the next version of its Enterprise Resource Planning software — Dynamics AX 2012 R3 — will land next April and offers new warehouse and transportation management capabilities.

AX 2012 R3 will be available on Azure, but there will be no SaaS specific features available for AX until at least the next major release of the application.

It also adds new single sign-on with Office 365 and SharePoint Online as well as a new user interface of the Dynamics NAV Web client, which now has about 100,000 customers worldwide. Microsoft Convergence EMAE continues today and tomorrow, so more to come here.