Microsoft’s (news, site) made an interesting offer this week that promises organizations currently using CRM or Oracle's Seibel (CRM) US$ 200 per license to make the jump to Dynamics CRM Online. The question is, is $200 enough?

The offer, which was outlined in an open letter from Microsoft’s marketing and operations VP Michael Park and announced at the same time that (news, site) opened its Dreamforce conference, would reduce the cost of investing by as much as 72%, according to Microsoft's’s dedicated website

However, while Microsoft guarantees that it will send participating organizations the cash back, there are a couple of caveats that need to be considered.

Redeploy or Not?

The first is that the offer is only open to organizations with between 15 and 250 users -- effectively the SMB market or departments within larger enterprises -- with no incentives offered outside of that relatively small group.

The other caveat, not mentioned in the open letter, is the difficulty of moving from one CRM system to another including the deployment, retraining involved and convincing workers to make the switch.

It is probably because of these considerations that Microsoft is offering participating companies the possibility of putting money against the cost of migrating data or customizing the system to meet enterprise needs.

And then there’s the time frame involved -- companies that take the offer will be tied into Dynamics CRM Online for a minimum of two years.

Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta

While the offer will probably draw some attention at Dreamforce, its timing is interesting for another reason.

Last July the private beta of Dynamics CRM 2011 was announced and introduced in public beta in September. At the time we suggested that its release was aimed at creating an alternative to Salesforce that would be attractive to companies already working with Microsoft.

This was particularly apparent with the added functionality that it offered. Microsoft CRM 2011, known as CRM 5, is to provide better integration with other Microsoft applications like Outlook and Office, as well as new collaboration and visualization features. Furthermore, it is to be made available in 40 markets and 41 languages.

The timing element stems from the fact that the beta is now just about complete with Dynamics CRM 2011 due for release sometime in January with the CRM for Less offer running until June 30 next year.

While the offer looks quite good at first glance, how good it actually is depends on product comparisons, what individual enterprises need and how the products cater to those needs.

If a company makes the switch and it doesn’t work the way it wants or needs it to work, US$ 200 per license is not going to cover the costs of the problems this could create.