What’s new and what you need to know before upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 (“Orion”)

By - July 9, 2013

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  While there is some debate about whether Henry Ford ever uttered those famous words, Microsoft certainly seems to be taking the underlying philosophy to heart in the design of their products of late.   The next release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (2013, formerly code-named “Orion”) is no exception and there are some very important things you need to plan for prior to upgrading.  In this post I will be highlighting some of the things you’ll need to think through based on what we know so far from the information Microsoft has released to date.  This is not an exhaustive list, and we will cover more in future posts.

  • New forms – If you have been following the evolution of Dynamics CRM 2011 at all, you’ve no doubt seen the “Polaris” forms that were released for Dynamics CRM Online in December 2012.  The good thing is that the “Flow UI” (Polaris) guided process based forms will be available for on-premise customers in the next version.  The flip side of the coin here is that the “Classic” forms may no longer be available.  This potentially marks a major shift in how your users interact with Dynamics CRM.  While I’d be surprised if Microsoft does not provide an upgrade path for your existing customizations, what that will look like and what will be supported is unknown at the moment. There is a listing of supported Ribbon customizations for Dynamics CRM 2013, so it appears there will be some sort of bridge between the old and new forms at a minimum.  Be sure to allocate time to review your processes in Dynamics CRM and how they will change with the upgraded forms, and develop training as needed. If you’re an on-premise customer, I’d recommend signing up for the free 30-day trial Dynamics CRM online trial to get familiar with the new guided-process based forms.  *** Update – News out of WPC is that all forms WILL be upgraded to the new process based forms.
  • 2007 web service support removed – This sounds pointy-headed and has been on the radar since the release of Dynamics CRM 2011, but it’s time for everyone to take notice. This change has two direct impacts for most CRM deployments:
    • First, if you are using these older endpoints the upgrade to the next version will not complete until you have removed all references to them.  In the past you could do the upgrade in a test environment and update your JavaScript, etc. in the new version, but now you must update or remove anything calling the old endpoints prior to running the upgrade.
    • The second impact is that updating to the new Dynamics CRM 2011+ endpoint is not as simple (for the most part) as changing the path to the endpoint like it was in the past.  Due to the migration to WCF Data Services introduced in Dynamics CRM 2011, you’ll need to rewrite your code to support the new format, or convert it to the REST/oData endpoint instead.  Microsoft has made a tool available to check your deployment for these situations.  Information on rewriting your endpoint calls is also availableThis has the potential to impact the majority of customers, so be sure to give it attention, or give us a call to help. Don’t forget to review any external applications that may be accessing or integrating with CRM as well
  • New system requirements – As is expected with any major software release, some older technologies are no longer supported in Dynamics CRM 2013, so review your environment and infrastructure as part of your planning:
    • Windows XP, Office 2003, and Internet Explorer 7 are no longer supported.
    • Exchange 2007 and 2007 WebDav are not supported when using the E-mail router (2007 EWS is still supported).
    • Terminal Server 2003 is no longer supported with Dynamics CRM for Outlook
    • Windows 2000 Active Directory forest and domain functionality levels.
  • Support for CRM 4.0 plug-ins and custom workflow activities – This will only affect customers that had specific need to extend/change either the CRM business logic or add new workflow functionality and had not upgraded the code for 2011.  Not much to say here, other than to be sure to review your system for these extensions, even if you don’t think you have them.  Better to check then to be surprised by some forgotten functionality or third party.  If you are using them, allow yourself time to update and test.
  • Third party products – Since there are significant changes to both the User Experience and the platform in Dynamics CRM 2013 be sure to identify any third-party products you are using and contact them to see if an update is available.
  • Changes to duplicate detection – Duplicate detection during create and update operations will not be supported for Microsoft Dynamics CRM updated user interface (“Polaris” or “Flow UI” guided process) entities. Duplicate detection of individual records won’t be supported for custom entities either.  What this means is that if you need individual duplicate detection for any entity that will have the new forms or any custom entity, you’ll need to handle it via another route, such as workflow, JavaScript, plugins, etc.  A list of the system entities affected is available at MSDN

Dynamics CRM 2013 marks a substantial shift in both the user-facing elements as well as the underpinnings and platform of your CRM installation. We’ll be providing updates as more information is released.  While change can be for the better, carefully planning is needed to ensure a successful transition. Be sure to give us a call to help keep you the upgrade smooth and take fullest advantage of the new features.

If you are interested in learning more about this upgrade, contact our professionals at crm@mcgladrey.com.

Read more articles on the new release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.

By: John Voorhis – New Jersey Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner

Receive Posts by Email

Subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.