Microsoft steps up CRM efforts

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App stores are not just for downloading weather forecasts and sports scores to your smartphone anymore. Technology giant Microsoft is opening a CRM app store.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., which began July 10 and wraps up July 15, Microsoft announced plans for the next version of its Dynamics CRM Online software, formerly known as CRM5. The platform will be unveiled to beta in September and officially be released before the end of the year.

The app store, called the Microsoft CRM Marketplace, will allow businesses to sell and buy CRM solutions that can be applied to Dynamics CRM.

“Our ‘Dynamic Business' vision of bringing people, processes and ecosystems together so organizations can quickly adapt to change before change happens, helping people be better informed, make smarter decisions and  be more productive,” wrote Umran Hasan on Microsoft's CRM blog.

Dynamics CRM 2011 seems to be designed to counter Salesforce.com's forthcoming CRM app store, AppExchange2, noted Nicholas Kolakowski of eWeek.

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