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Mac OS X and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Mac OS X and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

With the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM R8, Dynamics CRM users will now be able to harness the power of the most flexible CRM implementation on web browsers other than Internet Explorer. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and even Apple's Safari browser will finally be able to work with MS CRM. Mac users will finally be able to natively run CRM, in their browsers anyway.

However, what if you want the ease and accessibility of Dynamics CRM in Microsoft Outlook? Or the integration of all your Microsoft components with Lync (which depending on your business' implementation may not work on the Mac client)? Today, we will examine a method of using Dynamics CRM (and other Windows applications) on Mac OS X.

Mac OS X and Microsoft Dynamics CRM: The Setup

We will examine is the use of a software package called Parallels. Parallels is a virtual machine application, which simply means that it can run virtualized operating systems from within your current operating system. You may have heard of other virtual machine applications such as VMware, Hyper V, and Virtual Box. Parallels, however, has a neat trick that makes it superior for our intended use, which I will detail later.

To begin, you will need a copy of Parallels, which currently retails for about $60. You will also need a Windows install disk and key, which you could likely get from your IT department or your hardware vendor. Finally, you'll need a Mac that, ideally, is four or fewer years old (for the sake of performance).

Install Parallels, and enter your relevant registration key and information. This should bring you to the screen you see below:

Mac OS X and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

A nice feature Parallels allows you to do is to import a current Windows installation from an existing Windows box. The process is very simple, and only requires the install of an application on the Windows machine and a method of transfer (like a network or external hard drive).

The more conventional method is the simply click on the 'Install Windows or another OS' button, and use your Windows install disk and key through the wizard to get Windows installed within Parallels. Either way you choose, at the end of the install, you will have a brand new Windows installation running within Mac OS X.

Parallels will also prompt you to install Parallels Tools into your new Windows installation. This is where that neat trick I was referring to before comes in. You can run your Windows OS in a separate window in Mac OS, just like any other application, if you want. Or…you can turn on a feature in Parallels called Coherence. What this does is make every application and window in your Windows OS look as if it is just another app running on your Mac. Check out the pictures below:

Coherence Off:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Safari

Coherence On:

CRM and browser compatibility

As you can see, with Coherence turned on, it looks like your Windows applications are simply just open windows in Mac like anything else. Parallels also supports OS X Lion Full Screen for every window, and for the entire OS itself if you prefer.

Working with Dynamics CRM in Parallels

Since you are now effectively running a normal Windows installation, you can download and run all your favorite Windows applications including Outlook CRM and CRM in Internet Explorer. Anything you could install on a standard Windows machine can be installed here on Parallels. So you're probably wondering, will Windows running in Parallels be as fast as a native install, and will apps feel as responsive? In my experience, Windows installs on Parallels feel faster than when I run them natively on equivalent machine specifications. If you have a really powerful Mac, you can even go into the configuration and give the virtual Windows machine more of your Mac's RAM, CPUs, and graphics memory to make it even faster. CRM running in Outlook feels snappy, responsive, and actually a lot better than a native CRM Outlook install somehow. Even dashboard pages with many components load rapidly.

All your favorite PowerPack components will work great just like they do in native Windows Outlook CRM. Check out PowerWebTraffic and PowerMailChimp running in Outlook CRM, on a Mac below. You can search through your CRM organization quickly and comprehensively using Power Global Search, or send surveys like a pro with Power Survey, all through your CRM Outlook client running in a near-native experience on Mac OS X!

Dynamics CRM Apple

CRM in Internet Explorer is just as quick and responsive as well. Plus, since you are on a Mac, you can use Spaces, Exposé, and the new Mission Control center to quickly swap between multiple CRM windows and applications on different desktops. It is a fantastic way to use Dynamics CRM!

Closing Thoughts

Dynamics CRM is an amazing tool to maximize your business' potential, but for the small group of us that use Macs, it has always been just out of our reach. However, with Parallels, Mac users can finally experience Dynamics CRM and the indispensable Power Pack in a near-native experience, along with all their other Windows applications. With R8 multi-browser support coming soon as well, it's an exciting time to be a Dynamics CRM user, no matter what type of system you prefer!

Happy CRM'ing!

By Maria Valley

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17 comments on “Mac OS X and Microsoft Dynamics CRM”

  1. I've deployed this to a dozen macs, it's a bit of a nighmare to administer, it basically gives you another bunch of windows you have to keep patched. What we need is a Mac email client that support CRM

    1. Hi Phil - Yes it would be very nice to have a native client. We think this is coming. Microsoft strategy is to be browser agnostic and the landscape is changing with all the tablets out there. But in the mean time utilizing parallels is a decent option.

      1. The horror of supporting CRM Dynamics on iMacs still continues! Out of an organisation of 3000 15% of users have macs - but are the most vocal and militant. With Parallels some things sometime go wrong (as they do with any computer) and because of the integration mode, error messages can be hidden from the users. Many mac users are not technically advanced and getting the odd windows error surfacing really freaks them out. Additionally to start up the VM takes time and makes their machines sluggish. It's not bad after everything has started properly, but they expect everything to work instantly (like the rest of their mac). Also when they are in a Cafe with their macs the parallels machine takes an age to realise the domain network is no longer there.

        1. Hi Phil - UR 12 is finaly here and with it you can have cross browser support including running crm in an iMac. Let us know if you need any help getting your on premises or javascript ready for UR 12 / cross browser.

          1. So RU 17 is here and still no option for tracking emails on a Mac? Re-evaluating Citrix for this...

          2. Hi Cada - Yes - unfortunately we still have no outlook plugin for the mac. SO options are either citrix or a forward mailbox. The fowardmailbox option should work well, but it will simply track the email and you can't specify which entity to go against.

          3. Hi - Still no outlook crm client plugin for the mac. Our guess is that as the world moves to more mobile solutions we are going to see investments in server side stuff and not the outlook crm client.

          4. my company uses MS CRM 2013 and the page still doesn't open on my latest Mac, even when i set "user agent" option under the Developer tab to IE9 !

          5. Hi Mish - Make sure have the the latest and greatest service pack and update rollup. There have been a few issues with macs, but solved in the latestest and greatest build.

          6. as of today, i have the latest and greatest updates, OS X El Capitan 10.11 with Safari v9.0
            The CRM page just loads as blank. maybe because it's an aspx page! Somehow knows its not IE !

  2. Hi, I've just installed Parallel Desktop 8 to try and installed windows 7 with coherence on a MacBook Air 11" 2012. You've stated that it feels snappier than running natively. I've been trying to access the Dynamics CRM that is hosted in a cloud environment (don't actually know much details about the Dynamics setup) and it feels extremely slow. There is any configuration that could improve the performance?? I still need to test a dual boot with boot camp, however, on my PC the CRM runs way faster than on the mac. It feels really unproductive. Do you have any tips that I can use to improve it?
    The whole idea is to assess the best alternative to run the CRM on the Mac.

    1. Hi Fernando,

      Is it is just CRM that feels sluggish, or is it the whole Windows OS? I would imagine you already do, however, I recommend having at least 1GB of RAM and 2 processors allocated to the virtual machine in Parallels settings, as well as at least 128MB of Video RAM. Beyond that, the default IE and Outlook settings give me the best speed in Parallels with CRM. Also, ensure that it is only CRM that is loading slowly, and not all sites on your Macbook Air, just to make sure there is not a network connectivity issue between Parallels VM and Mac networking.

  3. Alex,

    I am working with a new organization that is running CRM 4.0 but desperately wants to run crm on a mac infrastructure. I understand from your post below the UR 12 allows for the cross browser support for the mac.

    I understand to get this I need to migrate the client to the new version. What functionality will they loose if they move away from the plugin to the browser UI? Is it more difficult to complete their work efforts?


    1. Hi Ryan,

      Yep - with crm 2011 + UR 12 you can use it in a mac. With only using the web interface the main functionliaty lost is the ability to quickly track emails in crm and also the synchronization of contacts, tasks, meetings from crm to outlook/exchange. However, there are rumors in teh news groups that synchronization of contacts, tasks, meetings is going to be server side in a future release of crm.

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