Microsoft is rolling out a more flexible licensing policy for its CRM Online application that could make it more competitive with the likes of Salesforce.com, but in one instance it also introduces a price increase.
While Microsoft's CRM (customer relationship management) software uses the same codebase for both the online and on-premises versions, until now CRM Online was available at only one pricing level, currently $44 per user per month. Meanwhile, on-premises CRM customers have been able to choose from three different pricing models.
"Many of our online customers have asked us for more options," said Paco Contreras Herrera, director of product marketing for pricing and licensing, in a blog post Monday. "They want the same flexibility for our online service."
In the next major update to Dynamics CRM, which is scheduled for later this year, online customers will be able to choose from three different pricing levels.
At the high end, Dynamics CRM Professional Edition will cost $65 per user per month. This is aimed at those "who need the full capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM including sales-force automation as well as marketing and customer care," Herrera wrote. "We believe most users will find this license best fits their needs."
Microsoft will also offer a Basic edition at $30 per user per month, which is aimed at "sales, service and marketing users who need to manage accounts, contacts, leads, cases and access custom applications as well as for business analysts who require reporting capabilities," Herrera added.
Finally, an Essential version will cost $15 per user per month and is meant for "light-weight users who need to access custom applications developed in house or by our vast network of partners," he wrote.
In addition, online and on-premises licenses "will be equivalent, making it easier for our customers to compare and decide what works best for them," Herrera said.
Actual pricing for CRM Online "might vary by geography," and don't include fees for "add-on services such as additional storage, testing and production instances," Herrera wrote.
Microsoft's moves seem intent on helping it compete with Salesforce.com, which has offered a range of access tiers for its cloud-based CRM application.
The monthly charge for Professional Edition will bring Dynamics CRM in line with Salesforce.com's Professional edition, which also costs $65 per user per month, but also amounts to a $21 per month price hike for customers that want the full range of Dynamics CRM features.
Via email, a representative for Microsoft acknowledged that "costs have come up some," but added that as of the launch of Dynamics CRM 2013 later this year, mobile licenses will be included at no additional charge.
The mobile access policy will apply to all editions of Dynamics CRM, both online and on-premises, Herrera said in his blog post.
Microsoft is also "offering our customers more freedom to choose and the ability to mix and match licenses, so they are not forced to fit every user into the same license," Herrera added.