I just attended the local MSCRM 4.0 Readiness event and got a great overview of a lot of information about MSCRM 4.0.
Here are some of the highlights that I don't think you may have seen.
1. Tracked Emails will not require the Tracking Token. You can use if you want but you now have the option.
2. Through the use of Windows Communications Server you can link IM to CRM. We were told that internal IM would definitely be available but being able to IM your Contacts (using their email addresses) may not be possible. The rep's weren't 100% sure.
3. Reporting will now work while not on the domain and you can do reporting while offline using the Outlook client.
4. Pages have been reduced in size by 66% to make loads and requests faster. Also, the queries to Active Directory (AD) have been significantly reduced. MS actually admitted (finally) that they were causing a lot of chatter between CRM and AD, something they wouldn't do before CRM 4.0 was being released.
5. Security Roles are now exportable. This is great for consultants who have to recreate the same role over and over again from one client to another (it's a lot of clicking). There are actually a lot more exportable items now. Workflow for instance is exportable, which was possible in 3.0 but not from the web or Outlook interfaces. So, that has changed as well.
6. Subjects can now be linked to any entity.
7. Metadata is no longer just read-only. You can write to it and delete from it now programmatically. Great news for all the hardcore developers out there.
8. Supported Configurations
a. Anything that ends in "2000" or earlier is no longer supported (Office, Server, SQL, etc)
b. XP and Vista
c. Internet explorer 6/7
d. Office 2003 and 2007
e. Visual Studio with .NET Framework 3.0
f. Visual Studio 2005 Visual Studio 2008
g. SQL 2005 and SQL Katmai (SQL 2008)
h. Exchange 2003 and 2007
9. Improvements have been made to have CRM Server Roles to farm out functions for the CRM Server. Web App, Platform, SQL Mirroring and/or Farming, etc. Also, a lot of actions, including workflows and custom code will run asynchronously instead of synchronously. By doing this, the user experience should be faster because nearly everything gets pushed to the server to be run in the background.
10. If you have the Outlook client installed and you send an email from CRM it will appear in your Sent Items folder of Outlook. If you don't have the Outlook client installed and you send an email from CRM then it will not be placed in your Outlook Sent Items.
11. A lot of objects have been added to the CRM database, like Workflows or Security Roles, so that they are their own entity and can have reports built off of them, better security, and more flexibility. Workflow will now be much easier to manage and report on with this change. Workflow Monitor was functional but was really lacking. I don't know of any out of the box reports that are coming for Workflow, so you may have to build your own but still, that's better than what we had before.
That about does it in terms of things that were discussed that I haven't seen posted already on other blogs. Hope this helps you in seeing the growth of MSCRM and it's potential for you and your company.
Dynamic Methods Inc.