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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

August 29, 2011 at 7:22 AM

Microsoft ratchets up cloud competition

Microsoft is launching a new wave of ads and incentives this week aimed at getting companies to try, and make long-term investments in, cloud computing.

The rollout of new ads and incentives from Microsoft – even as rivals Salesforce.com and VMware hold their major conferences this week – is part of the company’s overall push into the cloud computing marketplace. The global market is expected to grow from $40.7 billion this year to more than $241 billion by 2020, Microsoft said in a company posting citing Forrester Research.

Among the incentives is a $150 per user cash-rebate offer for companies in North America that switch from another provider to Dynamics CRM Online. (A minimum of 50 users per organization is required, with a maximum of 500.)

Dynamics CRM Online is Microsoft’s Web-based customer relationship management software. The cloud software helps companies manage sales, customer service, and marketing campaigns.

Traditionally, customer relationship management software has mainly been installed on computers and company servers. But that’s changing as more companies explore moving to the cloud, and more companies that provide such services – such as Microsoft, San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, and Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle – tout them.

Microsoft is moving aggressively into this market with Dynamics CRM Online, which launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2008, and to 38 more countries in January this year.

“We’re in the process of massively scaling up this business,” said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Management Group.

As part of that, the company is offering the incentive, which is intended to defray the costs of migrating from another system, Wilson said.

It’s not the first time it’s offered such deals. Earlier this year, Microsoft offered a $200 cash rebate per user to companies that switch to Dynamics from Salesforce’s product.

Microsoft is also offering what Wilson says is a lower price than competitors: Customers in North America pay $44 per user per month for Dynamics CRM Online.

Salesforce.com, on its website, lists its current prices as ranging from $2 to $250 per user per month, with the most popular enterprise package going for $125 per user per month.

Oracle CRM On Demand prices range from $75 per user per month for multi-user companies to $130 for the single-user enterprise edition, according to a July 12 Enterprise Apps Today article.

Microsoft is also going after the private-cloud market, touting its services versus Palo Alto-based VMware, which today announced several new vCloud offerings. Microsoft also poked fun at VMware in a spoof video:

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