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MicrosoftMicrosoft says the latest incarnation of Dynamics AX will mark its transformation from a packaged application to a cloud service.

On Thursday the vendor announced the latest release of its flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) system will be generally available in the first quarter of 2016. The main difference, it said, is that the ERP is now a service designed for the cloud.

A public preview of the new solution for customers and partners will be available in early December. The new name of the release, Microsoft Dynamics AX, reflects a departure from branding that reflected the year or the version of the product, a characteristic of software packages, it said. From now on the branding will underscore that Dynamics AX is a cloud-based service that will be regularly updated, it said.

Microsoft said it will also implement a new, simple and more transparent subscription pricing model to make it easier for companies to buy the system as they need it. Dynamics AX will offer a new user experience that looks and works like Microsoft Office and shares information between Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM and Office 365, according to the vendor. It will also combine near-real-time analytics powered by Azure Machine Learning with the ability to visualise data through Power BI embedded in the application, in order to give users more predictive powers.

In response to usability analysis, Dynamics AX will have a browser-based HTML5 client and a new touch-enabled, modern user interface. Now that it’s a cloud system it will adopt the principles of highly visual applications more akin to consumer applications, according to Microsoft.

The classic rigidity of ERP systems has been replaced, according to Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise’s executive VP. “Our ambition to build the intelligent cloud comes to life with apps optimised for modern business. When you combine the hyperscale, enterprise-grade and hybrid-cloud capabilities of Microsoft Azure with the real-time insights and intuitive user experience of Dynamics AX, organisations and individuals are empowered to transform their business operations,” said Guthrie.

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