Orion Update: Microsoft CRM major release planned for October 2013

Orion, the next major release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, has a planned release date of October 2013, according to information Microsoft is sharing with its partners as it ramps up readiness activities.

Orion

A slide in a recent presentation to Microsoft partners, shared on Twitter, also reveals that the Dynamics CRM Online roadmap now has a Q1 release in 2014 called “Mira” and a Q2 2014 release “Leo”, which had been previously identified. Microsoft has not yet confirmed these plans publicly.
According to the information being shared with partners, on-premise Dynamics CRM customers can expect a new annual release cadence starting with Orion, as well as Update Rollups delivered every 12 weeks. Recent update rollups for Dynamics CRM 2011 have caused some headaches due to technical issues, delays, and a perceived lack of communication from the Dynamics CRM team when problems arose. Dynamics CRM CVP Bob Stutz has said in recent statements that his team intends to improve the update rollup process for on-premise customers by better managing how bug fixes and enhancements are each released.

For on-premise customers, the Orion release will introduce the same features that CRM Online users got with the December 2012 Service Update, a.k.a. Polaris, which was released in January 2013. These features include the new “Flow” user experience, Yammer integration, the iPad sales experience, Skype outbound call integration, and Bing Maps “out of the box” integration.
With Update Rollup 12 for Dynamics CRM 2011 on-premise, customers got other features in parallel with the Polaris release like cross-browser compatibility, the bulk data API, and Office 2013 compatibility. UR 13 focused on support and fixes.
Dynamics CRM partners are now beginning to get access to readiness training for Orion, including learning plans, information on a “Training Blitz Day”, and courses. CRM MVPs have not yet had their traditional Airlift scheduled by Microsoft, we are told. Airlifts give MVPs a preview of an impending new release.

What else can you do to prepare for Orion? It will depend on a variety of factors like deployment method (CRM Online or on-premise), the level of customization – both on the user interface and below the surface, and the collection of ISV solutions involved. It will also depend on the huge number of details that Microsoft still has to share with Dynamics CRM professionals as they ramp up their efforts in the coming months.

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