Most recent and future Microsoft server technologies will be running on 64 bit machines (or 64 bit virtual machines) only and there will be no install for 32 bit operating systems. Microsoft products and technologies such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft SharePoint 2010 are already produced for 64 bit operating systems only. If you have a laptop or a PC running Windows vista or windows 7, you will not be able to run virtual machines with 64 bit operating systems on your computer using Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Windows Virtual PC. These Microsoft products are designed to run 32 bit virtual machines only at the moment. Microsoft may decide to get these products developed and upgraded to run 64 bits in the future. Until this happens, many people change their laptops and PC’s operating systems to be windows server 2008 with Hyper V. Microsoft Hyper V is the product that can run 64 bit virtual machines and almost any other virtual machine you have.
I was left in this dilemma, thinking should I switch my laptop to windows server 2008 and do the settings that would make my windows server 2008 operating system look like a workstation (like windows 7) to be able to run virtual machines. Then, I looked at Oracle Virtual box (Oracle VirtualBox) for running 32 and 64 bit virtual machines (i.e. virtual machines with 64 bit operating systems). Oracle virtual box is free, efficient, runs on windows 7 (and I believe vista as well) and works absolutely fine when it comes to running your normal (.vhd) virtual hard disks. You can download and install virtual box and you can then instantly get your .vhd files added to a new virtual box virtual machine. It has most of the features you would expect in a powerful virtualisation software. I definitely recommend trying it (no warranties from me), if you are in a similar situation.
A Note & a Tip:
One tip though. If you ever have problems or errors trying to add a .vhd file to a virtual box virtual machine, try to add your virtual hard disk files (.vhd) to the virtual machine as IDE rather than SATA drives. This was an annoying issue (or a bug may be?) that meant I couldn’t get any of my virtual hard disks to work as long as they are added as SATA drives. Once I add my hard disk files to the Virtual box as IDE drives, I was able to load them perfectly fine and I’ve been running them this way as IDEs since then. Also make sure you install virtual box additions (similar to virtual pc add-ons) to have a smoother virtual machine experience and to have a bag full of options and features added to your virtual hard disk.
Any virtual hard disk file (.vhd) that gets added to a virtual box virtual machine, can still be re-used by windows virtual PC (if the OS is 32 bit obviously), so there is no permanent change to your VHD file has taken place.
This post is a continuation of a series of posts about what’s new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and introduction to new features in CRM 2011. This series focuses on highlights and general list (bullet points) of new productivity and UI enhancements (UX) in CRM 2011 and it is not aimed as a detailed step by step guide to all dynamics CRM 2011 features. I’m hoping to write in the future more detailed posts about each and every Dynamics CRM feature but at this stage I’m focusing on the main new additions and improvements. Please read the previous post here for the full list of features.
- Charting & Graphs: CRM 2011 comes with loads of charting capabilities and features. You can create a chart or a graphical representation of your data in few minutes and against any entity or group of records. You can then drill into the data represented inside this chart or graph. Drilling into data in charts is another way of navigation in itself. Business users can create charts and graphs themselves and can have their own dashboards without the need of development or developers involvement. Out of these charts, CRM 2011 users can create their own dashboards that would be then made of a group a charts and can have multiple dashboards with a variety of information.
- Navigation enhancement in CRM 2011 include the new Home button which gets you to your homepage from any screen and anywhere you are on the system. There is also the recently visited button next to your home button which has links to all your recently used views and items including recently opened records. You can also pin items in this recently used menu so it will always be in the menu in the future and you can quickly jump to it whenever you need. This is useful when you have an account record for example that you use daily or you will extensively use over a period of time. You pin it to this menu and quickly go to it whenever you want. You also have your most used views so you can jump to them directly with one click.
- Views selection: Another time saving navigation enhancement: You can now select which entity view you want to see before you actually click to open the open the entity. For example, you can click on the arrow next to the Contact entity–> select which view to open as in screen shot below:
- Filtered Views: CRM 2011 now allows filtering of views similar to how excel filters work so you can filter what records to see within the view.
- You have a graph & charting tool next to every view where you can view your records in a form of a chart, graph or any graphical representation you choose. You can also drill into the records in each section of the chart.
- CRM 2011 Ribbon: The new ribbon now allows you to qualify a list of leads (multiple leads) via a button on the ribbon. You can also assign, merge, add to a queue and do a variety of other things to a selection of records of any entity type.
- Connections: A new feature in CRM 2011 where records of different entities can now be connected to each other. So for example, you can now create a connection between a contact and an opportunity, a contact and a user, an account and a competitor. Basically any combination of two records from any two custom or system (customisable) entities can have a connection created between them. So you can now have a grid that shows all records of all entities that have a connection (i.e. related) to a specific record. Almost like a social networking capability for your CRM 2011 records.
- Goals & Goals Managementin CRM 2011: MS Dynamics CRM 2011 now comes with out of the box built-in goal management feature. You can find this in the Sales section, Goals, Goals Metrics and Rollup queries. You can have a parent (main) goal for a department for example and child goals for individuals. You can also aggregate all CRM 2011 goals by individuals into the parent goal to see whether or not you are approaching your goal. Very useful feature for reaching sales targets and managing sales personals targets.
- Queues: Now you can have each and every record in CRM added to a queue. You can add leads to any queue or any other entity. Previously in Dynamics CRM 4.0 you can only add cases to queues but now you can add any entity record to any queue you create.
- Filters: Filters in views are built in CRM 2011 so that you can create a personal/shared view (similar to advanced find) out of a filtered view! Simply, add your filters –> Save this view —> Create a personal view (Advanced find) —> edit filters and add/remove columns —> Save personal view —-> Share the view with your colleagues.
- Process automation and control: Workflows(process) and Dialogs. Workflows in CRM 2011 are now part of Processes. When you go and create a new process you decide which category your process falls under: Workflow or Dialog. Workflows are the standard Dynamics CRM workflows as in CRM 4.0. Dialogs are a completely new addition to CRM 2011. Dialogs are in effect UI scripts or a scripting tool that allows you to create a script with questions (prompts) and allow you to store the answers of these questions. It also allows branching where your dialog process or script changes its direction based on the answers you get from the customer. This is ideal for call centres where you need a structured process and scripts for call centre representatives. It can be used in a variety of other things as well including data entry for example. Responses to questions and answers are stored during the dialog and can be re-used further on in the process (as if they are variables in code), or they can be used to to update a record field value. At the end of your script, you can create, update & assign a record amongst many other steps that you can do.
- Solutions Management: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has a new concept called solutions management. This is a totally new and unique way to build your own solutions. You can create and save your customisations and then share them with other users and clients. You can create a solution or import a solution created by another company and add it to your organisation. This is ideal for companies and partners who want to produce solutions and sell them on or re-use them as packaged solutions for other projects, sell them on the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM marketplace and so on. There are 2 types of solutions: Managed and unmanaged. A managed solution can be edited only by specific users and if exported and imported at nother organisation, users of the other organisation will not be able to edit or modify your solution. Managed solutions are fully secured and cannot be edited. An unmanaged solution can be edited by any user with an appropriate user role. A solution can have version number, It includes entities customisations, relationships with entities and other components, and security features based on user roles.
- Import and export data: You can now create new entities while importing and you can dynamically create fields to map against source fields in the source data file such as an excel sheet.
- SharePoint integrationbetween CRM 2011 and SharePoint comes now out of the box as a built in feature in CRM 2011 with no development or custom code needed.
- SDK: The new powerful SDK for CRM 2011 has all full support for all the new features in CRM 2011 including Auditing, Security, charts (3D charts by Fetch xml) and much more.
Previous posts is this series:
CRM 2011 Outlook client
CRM 2011 Productivity enhancements (Web client, customisations, etc.) (part 1)
I hope this post was of some benefit for some of you. Please feel free to correct any possible mistakes in this post. As always, the post and information in this blog are all provided as is with no warranties and confers no rights.