MS updates Solomon; CRM integration still in progress

A new version of Microsoft 's Solomon suite of enterprise applications for medium-sized companies was released onTuesday,...

A new version of Microsoft 's Solomon suite of enterprise applications for medium-sized companies was released on Tuesday, featuring deeper integration with other Microsoft products and new software for project administration.

Solomon 5.5 includes the newly developed Professional Services Automation package, which works in conjunction with Microsoft Project 2002, also included in Solomon 5.5, and enables project tracking, including budgets, billing and staffing.

Microsoft describes Solomon 5.5 as a "fine-tuning release". It includes changes to four of Solomon's 10 bundles of modules for handling various corporate operations.

Solomon's Financial Series now includes updated time entry screens and functionality allowing multiple cheques per employee per pay period to be printed. The Project Series and Service Series feature additional modules and ease-of-use enhancements, and Solomon's core Foundation Series includes extended report management capabilities.

Also added globally to Solomon is a new Smart Tag Manager linking Solomon with Microsoft's Office XP suite. Users can connect across the applications information on customers, suppliers, inventories and employees, Microsoft said.

Solomon was produced by Microsoft's midmarket-targeted Business Solutions Unit, which also created the company's customer relationship management (CRM) software.

In pitching its CRM offering, Microsoft emphasised the software's planned integration with other Business Solutions products, including Solomon, but five months after Microsoft CRM's release, that integration remains under development. No completion date has been set.

Solomon 5.5 is now available in the US and Canada through Business Solutions resellers. Versions customised for users in other countries will be released throughout the next year. Costs vary, but Microsoft estimated the starting cost of a typical, three-user financial version of the software at $12,700 (£7,754).

Microsoft has also released a basic version of Solomon, Solomon Standard in the US and Canada, aimed at smaller companies.

Solomon Standard's target audience is organisations with 25 to 99 employees, annual revenue of up to $25m, and up to 10 licensed users. A typical single-user licence costs $4,900.

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service

Read more on Business applications