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:
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:
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!
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!
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!