The SMB Advantage Subsidy Program Ends May 31, 2014

Microsoft SMB AdvantageThere is less than one month remaining to take advantage of the Microsoft SMB Advantage program. Any SMB (small to mid-size business) customer who buys eligible licenses (also called seats) of selected products, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Office 365, and SQL Server Premium will receive a subsidy check that they can use to purchase licenses or services from a Microsoft Partner such as xRM. Both new and existing Microsoft customers qualify.

The subsidy check, which gets sent to the Microsoft Partner that you have designated, represents a great opportunity to obtain services from an expert consultant for free, or at a reduced rate. xRM customers have utilized their SMB dvantage payouts to help cover the cost of CRM consulting services, such customizations to their CRM organizations and training.

Payout

The SMB Advantage rebate check is based on the annual subscription rate for the purchased service times the monthly payout rate. For example, a company purchasing 10 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Professional licenses would qualify for a subsidy check of $1560 (10 Professional licenses * $65 per license * 12 months * 20% = $1560).

Product Rebate
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 20%
Office 365 10%
Office 365 E3, E4, and Power BI An additional 10%
SQL Server Premium 12%
Dynamics CRM On-premises 12%

Deadline

The SMB Advantage ends at 5:00 PM PDT on May 31, 2014.

You must register your SMB Advantage claim within 15 days of your purchase (also before 5:00 PM PDT).

Restrictions

To be eligible, your company must be a small or mid-size business (SMB) as designated by Microsoft, purchasing between 5 and 200 seats. Academic institutions are not eligible.

Licenses have to be purchased through the Open License Program or Microsoft Online Services Program.

Only companies and their affiliates doing business in the US qualify for the SMB Advantage offer.

Go to the SMB Advantage page to read more about the offer, download a list of eligible products, calculate your subsidy, and redeem your purchase.

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The Heartbleed Bug

We have received a number of inquiries regarding the vulnerability of our services to the Heartbleed bug. Fortunately, xRM services are not affected by Heartbleed. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 services are also not affected.

What is Heartbleed?

Heartbleed refers to a security vulnerability in OpenSSL 1.01 and 1.02 beta. OpenSSL is used by various web, mail, and VPN systems, including some of the most popular websites and email services in the world.

The technical description of the Heartbleed vulnerability states the following:

“The (1) TLS and (2) DTLS implementations in OpenSSL 1.0.1 before 1.0.1g do not properly handle Heartbeat Extension packets, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information from process memory via crafted packets that trigger a buffer over-read, as demonstrated by reading private keys, related to d1_both.c and t1_lib.c, aka the Heartbleed bug.”

In plain English, the Heartbleed bug allows hackers and other malicious types to bypass the encryption used by many servers and obtain sensitive information such as passwords, emails, usernames, and account information from vulnerable servers that make use of the popular OpenSSL library and Transport Layer Security protocol (TSL).

Why are xRM services not affected?

xRM servers do not make use of the affected OpenSSL Library and TSL. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Office 365 do not make use of OpenSSL either. All SSL connections to our environment make use of an F5 external load balancer running BIG-IP LTM version 10.2.2. F5 has declared that this version of its load balancer is known not to be vulnerable. Our own investigation has also confirmed that our services are not vulnerable. We will continue to monitor the situation for any additional developments that may place our customers at increased risk of attack.

What about Microsoft Services?

Here is what Microsoft has said about the vulnerability of its own services:

“After a thorough investigation, Microsoft determined that Microsoft Account, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Yammer and Skype, along with most Microsoft Services, are not impacted by the OpenSSL “Heartbleed” vulnerability. Windows’ implementation of SSL/TLS is also not impacted. A few Services continue to be reviewed and updated with further protections.”

What should I do now?

Since xRM and Microsoft services are currently unaffected, you do not need to do anything beyond taking standard security steps, such as creating strong passwords and keeping them secure.

However, since the Heartbleed bug affects approximately 2/3s of websites, we recommend that you take the following precautions:

  1. Check with the provider of all of your web-based services and accounts. Find out if they are or were vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug.
  2. If your service providers indicate that they were vulnerable but have since fixed the vulnerability, immediately change your passwords.
  3. Consider implementing two-factor authentication as an additional security measure.
  4. Continue to watch your accounts for suspicious activity.

Further Reading

Here is a list of the 100 most popular sites in the US that updates their status courtesy of CNET.

http://www.cnet.com/how-to/which-sites-have-patched-the-heartbleed-bug/

Here is an extensive review of the Heartbleed bug, courtesy of CODENOMICON.

http://heartbleed.com/

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Office 365 Customers Can Save Up to 40% on CRM Online

If you have already taken your first tentative step into the cloud by subscribing to Office 365, now might be the perfect time to expand your embrace to include Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Until March 31, 2014, Microsoft Office 365 Midsize Business customers can save big when adding Dynamics CRM Online Professional licenses. Midsize Business subscribers who add between 5 and 49 Professional CRM Online licenses
can save 30%. The 30% discount brings the price of new CRM Online Professional licenses down to $45.50 per user, per month, a savings of $19.50 per seat.

Office 365 Enterprise E3 and Enterprise E4 customers who add 50 or more new Professional CRM Online licenses can save 40% on those new seats. The 40% discount brings the price of new Professional licenses to $39.00, a $26.00 savings.

As always, some terms and conditions apply.

  • First, you have to be an Office 365 Midsize Business, Enterprise E3, or Enterprise E4 subscriber.
  • Second, you have to make a minimum purchase of 5 new Professional CRM Online licenses to qualify for the 30% discount and 50 new licenses for the 40% discount.
  • Third, the discount only applies to Professional licenses. Basic and Essential licenses are exempt.
  • Fourth, the number of CRM Online licenses can’t exceed the number of Office 365 licenses that you subscribe to.
  • Fifth, the discount can’t be combined with any other offers.

To read more, view the full terms and conditions, or to take advantage of the discount, visit http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/offers/CRMM.aspx.

Once you have obtained your discounted CRM Online seats, head over to xRM and attend a free “Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM” demonstration. Then sign up for a free account at the Success Portal, the CRM Online video training library from xRM.

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Only 2 Days Remain for Microsoft Big Easy and Cloud Easy Offers

If you have not taken advantage of the Microsoft Big Easy Offer or Cloud Easy Offer, now is the time to strike. A portion of all eligible purchases will be returned to you in the form of subsidy checks that you can redeem at an authorized Microsoft Partner like xRM (www.xrm.com). On Friday, May 31st both of these cost-effective subsidy deals will expire. There is no better time to buy additional Microsoft server or end-user applications if you are a small to mid-sized business (SMB). 

The main difference between the two deals is that Microsoft Big Easy Offer applies only to on-premise licenses, while the Cloud Easy Offer applies to Microsoft Online Services such as CRM Online and Office 365. Both programs allow you to enrich your Microsoft solution.

The Big Easy Offer rebate checks can be used to hire a Microsoft Partner to setup and configure new hardware, educate system admins, or train new users. The check can also go towards purchasing innovative tools such as xRM Constant Contact Integration and xRM Web Gateway, which make Microsoft technologies even more effective. You can redeem the Cloud Easy Offer rebate check with xRM consulting or training offerings including xRM hourly consulting, prepaid consulting, or Quick Start CRM Training. These services and products will ensure that your CRM deployment is successful and reap rewards for your company.

Microsoft Big Easy Offer applies to the purchase of one to five new service licenses or five to 200 user licenses. Please read the full terms and conditions to make sure you are eligible for this offer. To determine your subsidy amount, use the Big Easy subsidy calculator to estimate your savings. The Cloud Easy Offer also applies to the purchase of at least five user licenses and up to 200 user licenses. In addition, the offer only pertains to purchases made between March 1, 2013 and May 31, 2013, and the rebate check is redeemable up to 30 days after product purchase. You can estimate your rebate with the Cloud Easy subsidy calculator. For more information, read the full Microsoft Cloud Easy Offer Terms and Conditions.

Ready to start saving money? Click here to take advantage of the Microsoft Big Easy Offer 10 with xRM or here for the Cloud Easy Offer with xRM.

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Quick Fix: Broken Outlook reminders and flags

As a company that provides Microsoft Dynamics CRM Support, xRM.com tends to stay pretty up-to-date on new bugs and fixes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011. One that recently appeared on our radar is a bug with the Microsoft Office Outlook reminders and flags. The bug can occur when you have installed the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011 Outlook client, and then install Microsoft Office 2010 SP1. If your Outlook reminder popups are no longer appearing, and you have recently installed Microsoft Office 2010 SP1, then you are probably looking to squash this particular bug.

Luckily, Microsoft has provided a simple hotfix that will allow you to eradicate this particular bug. Download the Microsoft Help and Support hotfix  to your desktop first, and then we will walk you through installing it below.

Double click the hotfix icon when it appears on your desktop (see below).

Quick fix broken outlook reminders and flags

When the Microsoft Self-Extractor launches (see below), click Continue.

Fix broken outlook reminders

Extract the files to the default location by clicking Ok (see below).

Broken flags and reminders how to fix them

When the extraction is complete, the Hotfix for Microsoft Outlook 2010 (KB2584053) window opens (see below). Check the box to accept the license agreement and click Continue.

 Fix broken reminders in microsoft outlook with microsoft crm

The hotfix will now install itself automatically (see below).

Microsoft dynamics crm online with microsoft outlook

Click Yes (see below) to reboot your machine after the hotfix has completed installation.

Fix broken reminders and flags outlook

Just like that—and we’re all done. Your Outlook reminders should now be back in fully functional order! If you’re looking for help preventing problems like this in the future, feel free to visit our Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online FAQ or consider Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Training.

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Microsoft Office 365 in the Real World

The Microsoft Office 365 release on June 28, 2011 has stimulated much  curiosity and speculation on the web about this cloud-based service bundle. As Microsoft takes to the cloud, people want to know if signing up for Office 365 will truly benefit them and their businesses.

Here is a refresher for you on Office 365. It is an updated Microsoft Online Services bundle, which includes Office Web Apps, web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Office 365 also includes Microsoft-hosted Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online, making it a powerful combination designed to meet the productivity, communication, and collaboration needs of any business. Microsoft has also recently announced plans to include CRM Online in Office 365, which would make it truly a “wow” suite.

What does all this mean in the real world though? In order to give potential customers valuable insight into the practical uses of Office 365, Microsoft is producing a blog series featuring guest writers who have implemented Office 365 into their businesses and have seen positive results. Here is a selection of these posts written by Office 365 customers from various fields of business:

Best-Kept Secret for Small Business—by Karen Kotzen, Owner, Love My Lessons, Hollywood, FL.

No-Brainer for Small Business—by David M. Kronke, Independent Textbook Author, Seattle, WA

Easy, Professional and Reliable—by Francesca Greens, Director, Digital Dragonfly, London, UK

Better Collaboration, Better Healthcare—by Shane Ochocny, Technology Architect, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, FL

Office 365 is the future of Microsoft Online Services. xRM.com ‘s extensive work with the online services portfolio, specifically with the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services Standard Suite and Microsoft CRM Online, makes us an ideal candidate to design your cloud-based business solution. We invite you to follow our xRM Call to Action in order to learn more about how our xRM consulting services can benefit your company.

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