Preview: “Orion” is Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Written By: Dave Packard

from September 5, 2013

Orion has a new name. This fall, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 release will be known as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 (for on-premise) and Microsoft Dynamics Fall 2013 (for online subscribers).

For online subscribers, the notification bar already notified some customers of the upgrade and when it will happen. This is the beauty of being in the cloud. Upgrades are automatic.

For on-premise, the time to upgrade will be up to the organization. It will be easier to upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 than leaping from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 though.

Users will find (unlike the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Polaris release that provided new features for online customers only) Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 will allow both platforms to have the same feature set.

Now for the larger updates that you will see in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013…

New User Experience
The biggest change, by far, is the updated user experience (UI). It is basically a complete overhaul. Before worry sets in, don’t panic. Just go slow. There are distinct advantages that will help with user adoption.

Previously, there were two common complaints about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011:  1) The number of clicks needed; and 2) the number of pop-ups encountered.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 addresses these issues with a flattened process form that trims down the clicks and virtually eliminates the popups. It provides a fluid transition from one entity to the next as defined by business processes, so users can seamlessly transition from Lead to Opportunity to Close on one form. Custom entities can also be included into this new process flow such as a new Project that flows from a Won opportunity.

Another new feature is Auto-Save. The system will save the form as users complete it – no need to click Save anymore. NOTE: This will affect workflows and scripting so make sure to review those so it will work with this new functionality.

No more Classic Forms and Ribbon
“Classic” forms and ribbon will no longer exist in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. The classic forms still were an option with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Polaris release but Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 is strictly the new process forms. The ribbon will no longer exist on the new forms as they give way to a sleeker UI that includes process bars that will quickly provide guidance on what has been done and what the next steps are.

Business Process
The new UI will require a business process for the flow to work. The best part is that it is has several pre-packaged options to choose from that are customizable so the process in Microsoft Dynamics CRM can follow specific business process whether that is for sales or customer service. These processes also can be role-specific allowing individual users to follow the process for their specific job.

Stops are provided if certain stages are not completed. For example, if an opportunity requires a customer budget and it is not supplied, it can hold the opportunity in that stage until the budget is added.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Polaris release provided one process making it nice to see that multiple options with the ability to customize each one.

Pricing Structure

The current Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online pricing is changing to a tiered pricing structure: Professional, Basic, and Essential. Microsoft believes the Professional license will best fit the needs of most users. Customers will be able to mix and match the license options based on what access each user needs allowing added flexibility that was not available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.  More detail on the licensing and pricing changes is found in the ____article in this issue of Dynamics University.

Custom Code
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Polaris release from earlier this year provided a preview of the new forms, but they had one major drawback—no ability to add custom code. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 will migrate all supported custom code from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011; although, modifications will likely need to be made such as around the new auto-save feature for forms, for example.

One important note is that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 will not support custom code from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 meaning that and upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 will be more of a leap than a jump.

Free Mobile Apps
Following the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Windows 8 and iPad apps will be released. Like the Sales for iPad experience, the apps are centered on the sales experience and will be available in their respective stores after release. A Windows Phone app will be released and iPhone and Android apps are not expected until Quarter 1 of 2014. These apps are likely to be the beginning with more functionality being added in future releases.

Other Notables
Bing Maps
Out-of-the-box Bing Map integration is here! Add the address and Bing Maps will display it right on the form. This has been an often asked-for feature, so it is great to see it as default functionality.

Yammer is set to replace the Activity Feeds but the integration will still require purchasing the Yammer Enterprise level. Activity Feeds will still be available for those who choose not to add the per-user fee of Yammer Enterprise.

Marketing Pilot
Microsoft purchased Marketing Pilot in October 2012. It will now integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and provide customers with a robust marketing solution that is more than marketing automation. It is “integrated marketing management” which means it includes agency management and document management tools along with the ability to manage social media campaigns like Facebook and Twitter – plus the traditional offline campaigns. Marketing Pilot is an add-on to Microsoft Dynamics CRM; however, it will be an additional cost. More information can be found at

Email Router
The Wmail Router is being replaced with Server-Side Sync. The Email Router was the free additional software that basically integrated Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Exchange allowing Microsoft Dynamics CRM could email on its own. One of the issues it had was it required an on-premise installation even if users were running Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Exchange Online. Server-Side Sync will replace the email router functionality and improve the sync of activities, contacts, and appointments with remote users.

One important note is that it works for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online with Exchange Online and Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premise with Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013. It will not work for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online with an on-premise Exchange or vice versa.

A great feature from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will be given more real estate in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. This is a great addition to a powerful feature.

Editable Grids
The Opportunity form is expected to support inline editable grids as well. This is a frequent customer request and it is exciting to see this rolling out.

When is the expected release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013? As mentioned above, some online customers are already scheduled for the update.  But for on-premise customers, at the time of publication the expected release shared from Microsoft is October 2013.

There are many other features included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 that are not covered here.  Continue to check Microsoft and Dynamics University blogs for more information over the coming months.