Using Microsoft CRM with a Mac
So I have resisted posting this subject for a long time. It comes up about once every other month or two. The question usually goes like this… I am working on a media company that has about a few users that use Apple or MacOS X. The questions usually come along something along these lines:
1. Can Microsoft CRM be accessed from a Mac using Safari or IE for the Mac?
2. Can Microsoft CRM utilize Entourage?
3. How would I use a Mac with Microsoft CRM?
There is no way to have Microsoft CRM run natively on a Mac of any type to the best of my knowledge. But there are some ways to get information to the Mac machines and information back. Here are some options. J
1. Use Terminal Services. Using this option your Mac users would connect to a Windows Server and have full access to Microsoft CRM with both the Outlook and Internet Explorer Clients. In this case the user experience would be no different than one for a user on a Windows Machine. If you wanted to, you could even setup the Terminal Server sessions so that it automatically launches Outlook or IE and then when the user shuts down the application, it closes the Terminal Services session. Users on TS still have cut and paste capabilities and the ability to move files between the Mac and Windows boxes.
2. Virtualization. Microsoft recently announced that it would not port VPC to the Intel Mac platform. However there are several other options, including VMWare, which has a piece of Virtualization software in Beta for Mac’s. (If you are talking the last generation of Mac’s, then VPC works great on them.) On the VM, you would need to install a licensed copy of XP and Office to make this work properly.
Using those options though, once the data from CRM has sync’d to Outlook, it will then be available to Entourage users who connect to the same mailbox. This would be sort of like the same way it works for a lot of Mobile devices. Once you sync to Exchange, the data is viewable in other applications or devices such as Blackberries and Mobile Devices.
So Microsoft CRM and the Mac platform can work together, it just takes a little extra planning and a few additional steps.
(I have never been asked the question, but the answers are the same if you are running Linux. http://www.rdesktop.org/ has a TS client for Linux and http://www.linuxworld.com.au/index.php?id=1498637333 has the options for Linux and Exchange Server connectivity.)