Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta Ships

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On-premise version downloadable now, still waiting for CRM Online

If you have more than a passing interest in Dynamics CRM, you’re probably aware by now that the CRM team delivered on its promise of September availability of the beta version of CRM 2011. Honestly, I can’t remember a beta release for any comparable product that a) generated more interest or b) had as much marketing polish.

For some of the marketing polish, visit the CRM 2011 beta landing page. Three videos each in the user, manager, and developer categories, plus four partner testimonials!

It’s probably churlish of me, but I thought the videos were a little disappointing: there’s no full-screen option so you can’t see them very well, there aren’t any controls so you can’t navigate on the timeline, and apart from the developer videos there’s really not that much substance in them. For example, they aren’t as good as the hour-long WWPC video I provided a guide to in this article.

I’ll stop being boorish now and recommend that you visit the Developer Videos page and scroll down to the documentation section. It’s awesome to have the CRM 2011 SDK available this far in advance of the product ship date, and to have a very detailed Implementation Guide for the on-premise beta version available as well. The new SDK is a great place to start learning about the new features for customizing and extending CRM 2011: there are a LOT of them and for the most part they look to be available for both the on-premise and online deployment models. The SDK contains a scary note about reporting, however: “Deploying custom SQL-based reports to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is not allowed due to security reasons as the SQL-based report might contain malicious code in the form of SQL statements that might compromise with the data security.”

I was a little concerned when I read that, as I’ve come to believe that of all the current limitations of CRM Online compared to CRM 4.0 on-premise, the worst is the inability to create SSRS reports for CRM Online. But then I read a little further and read about a new feature, “fetch-based” reports, about which the SDK has this to say: “These reports are introduced in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 that use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM proprietary FetchXML queries, instead of SQL statements, to retrieve data for reports. You can deploy custom fetch-based reports to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.” Sounds like an important feature – I’m looking forward to learning about the report authoring tools we’ll be able to use for fetch-based reports!

You can download the beta bits for CRM 2011 on-premise edition from this page: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=0c7dcc45-9d41-4e2e-8126-895517b4274c

But the 64-bit Rubicon has been crossed in this version, so you’ll need a 64-bit Windows 2008 server (or Windows 7!) OS to install them on.

Anyway, that’s for the on-premise version. I’m still waiting to light up my CRM Online 2011 beta environment. I signed up for the beta in early August…and then right after I signed up again this past Thursday (9/9, that is) I got an auto-responder from the CRM Online team with this: “Thank you for your interest in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta program. A member of our team will contact you shortly with details on how to get started with the new beta.”

I’m still waiting to hear from that team member…and wondering if anybody else already has their CRM Online beta organization all provisioned and up & running. Anybody?

I’ll keep you posted as I get hands-on with the next version of Dynamics CRM; stay tuned to the Trick Bag’s Dynamics CRM 2011 category for more info!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Knudson
Richard Knudson is a Dynamics CRM consultant and instructor, and has a special interest in cloud computing and helping organizations realize the potential of social CRM. His company, IMG, specializes in helping businesses implement and customize the Dynamics CRM platform.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like FetchXML is all over the place now in CRM 2011, as you have the option of exporting Advanced Find query criterias into FetchXML directly from the UI. Going even further, the new (Process) Dialog feature allows you to view and modify FetchXML criteria right inside CRM. Hmm, does this now mean that Fetching will become something I should also look into? I always thought it was for the CRM developers to worry about, or to work around with LINQ and the likes…

    Regarding the CRM Online 2011 beta environment invites, last night I received one from our membership as a customer in the Early Adopter Program. I’m still waiting to see if I receive another one as a result of the form that I submitted right after WPC 2010. Or more precisely, as a result of the 9/9 re-submit that I did just like you, after hearing that the initial form was only for getting an email on when the on-premises bits are available for download. Would have been mighty nice of Microsoft to notify the people who explicitly registered for beta notifications that there was a new form published for signing up to CRM Online 2011 environments.

  2. Hi Richard, great to see you are starting to see all that is new in the Beta. The Fetch based reports are truly portable. So are the Report Wizard reports. A key theme across CRM 2011 is the parity with Online and On-premises.

    Many people are getting their beta signup tokens. We’ve had much higher demand but we are working in FIFO order.

    Doug,
    The CRM Team

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