All eyes on Microsoft’s next move

Just where does Microsoft want to go today? That was the question most visitors were asking themselves at the Softworld Accounting and Finance Show at the Birmingham NEC last week.

After the Redmond giant recognised the dollar signs on offer from the business and accounting software world, it wasted no time in getting in on the act.

And it bought wisely. Navision would gain it a sizeable chunk of the European market while Great Plains did a similar favour on the other side of the pond. But for Microsoft, which has never had any problems getting out the cheque book, the problems begin with planning what to do with newly-acquired assets.

Simon Edwards, UK managing director at Microsoft Great Plains, said that he would agree with general customer and industry confusion over the future of the software group.

He also admitted there would be a ‘temporary period of instability’ while all the software was bedded in and integrated.

Depending on who you talk to, however, the future of the different software packages is anything but clear. Edwards said there was no immediate plans to wrap the three products into one solution, as did Phil Johal, brand manager at Microsoft Navision.

But Dennis Keeling, chief executive of the British Application Software Developers Association, said Microsoft had already stated its intent to do just that.

He attended the Microsoft Great Plains launch when the company said that although all the software would be continued, the aim was to have a universal product within three to four years.

And the confusion doesn’t just stop at the future of the software packages.

Microsoft Business Solutions had no brand or logo to go along with its new business right up until the Softworld deadline. And although one was created in time for the show, it is unlikely to last more than a couple of months before the companies marketing machine gets its act together.

Despite all this, Edwards was upbeat about the future. ‘This is our coming out,’ he said. ‘We hadn’t really talked to the market until Stampede (The Great Plains Global Partner Conference held in Minneapolis at the end of September).’

All of this will further trouble the myriad of Great Plains and Navision resellers in the UK market. There were a total of 24 Microsoft Business Solutions resellers present at the Softworld show and it is highly unlikely the UK market will be able to support them all.


Great Plains: Will provide the hub of the new Microsoft CRM offering to be unveiled by the end of the year, and will comprise the first real .Net application. Also big on HR, payroll and personnel.

Navision: A similar product set to Great Plains but will concentrate on the EMEA market. Current Navision customers outside EMEA will align with Great Plains.

Solomon: Business applications and e-business software aimed at SMEs. Now a part of the Great Plains product line, Solomon Software offers a range of e-business, accounting, supply chain management and project management applications.

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