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Microsoft Dynamics SL: A 2017 Year in Review and a Look at 2018

Microsoft Dynamics SL: A 2017 Year in Review and a Look at 2018

In mid-2017, Microsoft announced its plans to update its mainstay software for professional services, nonprofits, and government contractors. Expected to be discussed at the fall 2017 SL User Group conference in Tampa, the conference was delayed by Hurricane Irma, leaving many users and executives waiting for information regarding new features and functionality.

Get the Information You Need on Dynamics SL

With users hungry for details and excited for information, Microsoft announced in October that it would be releasing the new software in the first half of 2018, and selected a group of partners to present information on what would be coming. We were honored to be one of those partners selected, and recently moderated a panel of SL Experts including Microsoft’s Jeff Suwyn and the team at Plumbline Consulting, who explored the changes that can be expected in the upcoming software.

Recap: Exclusive First Look at SL 2018

We held this webcast on January 10, 2018, and would like to discuss some of the details in the following blog series on the past, present, and future of Dynamics SL. While still not an entirely comprehensive look, this will provide you a brief overview on the goings on at Microsoft, the improvements that have been made, and the things you can expect in the coming release.

In part one of this series, we would like to look at the product lifecycle and roadmap, following this with a look at improvements made throughout 2017 to Dynamics SL 2015 and finally take a look at what’s coming in part three. This all comes from our webcast, which you can view here.

Understanding the Product Lifecycle and Roadmap of Dynamics SL

Microsoft Dynamics SL has been around for decades, and has consequently developed a consistent product lifecycle for each of its offerings—five years of mainstream support, followed by five years of extended support. At year 10, however, extended support ends, and the only way to get answers is through a custom support contract. We will discuss the concept of product lifecycle below.

How the Microsoft Support Cycle Works

  • The Beginning: When Microsoft releases a product, the clock starts ticking. For instance, if Microsoft was to release Dynamics SL on April 2, 2018, this would also be the first day in the product’s lifecycle.
  • Mainstream Support: After the release, the clock is ticking. Mainstream support encompasses the first five years of the software’s life, starting at the release date. During mainstream support, Microsoft releases year-end updates, tax and payroll updates, security and non-security hotfixes. Additionally, companies using the software can make warranty claims, request new features, and receive no-charge incident support. Using the same theoretical April 2, 2018 release date, mainstream support would extend to April 2, 2023.
  • Extended Support: In theory, Extended Support is the beginning of the end for the product’s life. From year five to the end of year nine, users will still get security fixes, receive paid support from Microsoft, and have access to knowledge base articles. However, Microsoft will not publish non-security hotfixes, allow for warranty claims, or listen to design changes and feature requests. Users with an extended hotfix agreement can still receive non-security hotfixes.
  • The End: After the end of the ninth year (theoretical date: April 2, 2028), extended support ends, and customers will no longer be able to make support calls to Microsoft. Customers still may be able to find companies who will provide support for a fee, but costs generally outweigh the benefits, and it’s important to update.

So, Why Are We Talking About Support?

Why are we discussing hypothetical support dates for a product that hasn’t been released yet? Because if we just dove in and said, “Dynamics SL 7.0 Extended Support ended on October 20, 2017,” you’d dismiss this as a sales pitch, when our job is really to inform you of your options available.

This said, extended support for SL 7.0 has ended, and SL 2011 is now in extended support, so neither of these options is readily available to handle payroll under the new tax code in the U.S. and both of these options are beginning to show their age.

Getting to Know SL 2018

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs from your friends at Wipfli/Brittenford on SL 2018. Tomorrow, we will discuss the improvements made to 2015 in the CU2 update, and their role in developing a pathway to 2018. If you can’t wait, watch the replay of our latest webcast featuring Dynamics SL influencer, expert, and insider Jeff Suwyn, who agreed to join Wipfli for an exclusive first look at the new software. Click here to watch the webcast recording.


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