SugarCRM dangles Microsoft and AJAX sweeties

Delayed 4.5 gets polish

SugarCRM is touting the first fruits of a technology relationship with Microsoft in the next version of its open source customer relationship management suite.

SugarCRM 4.5 for Windows will feature improved support for Microsoft's SQL Server database, Active Directory and Internet Information Services (IIS).

The bitterest pill for some, though, is likely to be Sugar's plan for a distribution issued under Microsoft's Community License, part of Microsoft's pseudo open source Shared Source Initiative. SugarCRM is currently licensed under a modified version of the Mozilla license, called SugarCRM Public License (SPL).

Also due in version 4.5 is deep support for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), broadening the scope for greater customization by users and developers. Previous versions were written in HTML and PHP, and support for AJAX can be seen as an attempt by SugarCRM to increase the appeal of its software to non-technical users (one of Salesforce.com's strengths) and potential partners.

SugarCRM claims more than 5,000 developers have contributed 220 extensions to its suite, spanning from email response and presence awareness to VoIP, while serving more than 800 commercial customers. There's always room for growth, though, and SugarCRM remains behind sector leader Salesforce.com.

SugarCRM's change comes as Salesforce.com aggressively embraces AJAX in its tools and online service to facilitate the customization of its suite and integration with third parties' applications and services like Google Maps - called "mashups."

Salesforce.com's AppExchange claims more than 280 applications while there are 27,000 customers of the company's hosted CRM service. SugarCRM delivers both a hosted and on-site version of its software.

According to SugarCRM, AJAX will be used throughout version 4.5 and "employed extensively" within a revamped Sugar Studio for business and technical users. Sugar claims Studio provides "code-free customizations, back-up and restore functionality."

SugarCRM 4.5 is due at next month's LinuxWorld in San Francisco, having been initially due in June. The company attributed the delay to "polishing" features.®

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