Thoughts on the May 2006 VPC

So during our Live Meeting we did we got a ton of questions about supportability and some of the new widgets that we wrote for the VPC. Just the other day I also read Anne Stanton’s blog about the custom code in the image. (I just upgraded to Vista and OnFolio, my favorite RSS reader is not on IE 7 yet.)

Let me first lay some ground work. The previous version of the image was terrible. (Sorry Bill.) It was for the most part a stock CRM system with very few if any customizations. (As I recall, it was a generic install with no client side configuration, no custom entities, no SharePoint integration.)

As a result, some of us here in the field and many partners spent countless hours configuring the system to show partners and customers the potential of Microsoft CRM. The hope of the VPC was to stop that.

This VPC was designed for Demos. Period.

For me personally, the design was all about being to show customers what is possible. To be it is very similar to the code that is provided on this and many other blogs. Have you seen any of the code published on this blog that has any error trapping or error handling? No. Should most code have some sort of error handling? Yes. Is this code going to work in every situation and every time? No. It wasn’t designed to.

The amount of custom code was specifically kept to a minimum. For example, look at the Customer Self Service Portal. That code is available on the SandBox. Could we and maybe should we have done one that is an existing application from a partner? I would have voted yes for that. Now here is the difficult part.

Pick a partner’s product to include on the VPC. Your choices would include Axonom, c360 and NeoCase. So if we put one of them on there, would the other two be mad at us? You bet. So if we place a small piece of custom code in the application, we can show customers how they COULD deploy a customer self service portal. Would I want them to deploy our code? No. It is NOWHERE near production code. It doesn’t even require a password… Look at the Web Lead Form, could you put that on the web as is? Yes. But again, does it have any “real” security? No.

So is EVERYTHING on the Image possible? Yes. Is it all applicable to every customer? No. Did we run a real risk of going into areas that our partners may not be comfortable? Yes. Is this something you should copy off the image and run on a client’s site? I would not. You can get some inspiration for the items on the image and deploy some solutions based upon the ideas presented? Yes. Is the image “supported?” No. Think about installing Microsoft CRM for Outlook and Microsoft CRM Server on the same machine. That right there is unsupported. So a blanket statement that it is all “supported” would be a wrong statement.

So we hope that you have found the VPC to be a powerful to help you sell Microsoft CRM. We would love to hear your feedback on the image. Remember feedback can be provided to the VPC team at