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Microsoft to Update ERP Suite to Reduce IT Maintenance

Microsoft is set to release an update to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite later this year.

The update, known as Microsoft Dynamics AX 6, is intended to reduce the maintenance burden on IT teams and make it easier for developers to customise and add extra functions.

"As we introduce these powerful new innovations, we maintain our focus on simplicity by streamlining application deployment, maintenance and upgradability," said Hal Howard, vice-president of Microsoft Dynamics ERP research and development.

AX 6 will feature out-of-the-box interoperability with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, Howard said.

While previous versions of AX Dynamics have featured interoperability with the rest of Microsoft's software stack, the updated version will make it easier for Excel users to incorporate their work into the ERP system.

AX 6 is pencilled to ship in the third quarter of 2011, although a "community technical preview" release will be made available to developers from February.

Microsoft faces pressure from shareholders to show that its long-term investment in ERP will reap dividends. The software titan has sunk billions in acquiring ERP vendors over the past decade, but remains an also-ran in the space.

Meanwhile, the AX 6 announcement came on the same day the vendor revealed that the head of its server and tools unit, Bob Muglia, was to step down this summer.

Muglia has led one of the few Microsoft units that has consistently delivered double-digit revenue growth over the past decade. His departure places additional emphasis on those sluggish units - such as its ERP one - to start pulling their weight.

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