Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook Client Installation Gotchas

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook Client Installation Gotchas

This article is based on the personal installation experience of Jukka Niiranen, documented in his blog post.

Large number of customers still work with Outlook 2007, which is lacking a few nice features in the UI. There a few issues that might cause problems in the Outlook client installation process, this article is designed to help you save some time when upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM on your client machine.

CRM Online is used throughout the article, and though CRM no longer has a separate client version, the authentication methods do differ.

Before you begin: go with 32-bit

Probably most of the new business laptops nowadays come with a 64-bit (a.k.a. x64) version of Windows 7. Nevertheless, you should treat 64-bit applications with caution. Why? Well, it’s a bit like with IPv4 vs. IPv6. Everyone knows the old world as we know it is coming to an end, but there simply isn’t a concrete enough reason for developers or companies to go “all in” with the 64-bit apps.

 With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 the situation was quite nasty, as there was not and there will not be support for the 64-bit versio of Microsoft Office. You simply had to tell the users to “downgrade” their Office, which is not the most optimal starting point for getting someone to adopt a new application such as Dynamics CRM. Now with the arrival of Dynamics CRM 2011 we do in fact have an x64 client for Outlook, so everything should be in order, right? In theory, it is, but if you’re planning to install any fancy RIA apps from the Dynamics Marketplace into your CRM 2011, you should read this blog post from Customer Effective. That’s right, Microsoft hasn’t releases a 64-bit version of the Silverlight add-on for Internet Explorer, which leads us into the following situation:

KB2500373: Microsoft Silverlight web resources cannot be viewed in the 64-bit version of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Microsoft Office Outlook

It’s a fact of life: the world is not 64-bit just yet. With the Office applications there’s not likely to be a significant performance boost from using the x64 version, so take the easy way out and just install the 32-bit Office 2010. Let’s revisit the topic when we all have Windows 8 and Office 2013, shall we?

Favorite folders no more

KB2494600: There is no option to add Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities to favorites in Microsoft Office Outlook 2010

 The Solutions Module is a new feature that has become available in Outlook 2010, as described here in the MSDN library article. It allows developers to integrate their applications directly into the Outlook navigation pane, which is what Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook client is doing to achieve the seamless integration into the native Outlook navigation items.

What’s the downside? Unfortunately the add-on solution folders cannot be added to the Outlook favorite folders group. Bummer. This was one of the first classical advices during the Dynamics CRM users training. There’s no better way to drive CRM adoption that getting the list of the company’s accounts and contacts to be available right below the Outlook inbox folder, where most people start their day at the (MS) office. Even though the CRM folders are now more visual and available under the CRM navigation pane tab, there’s still likely to be tens of entities visible for most CRM users, out of which they typically access just 3-4 most popular ones. Some people dislike navigating through hierarchical folders that require you to expand them to see the what’s hidden on the next level, so always visible one-click navigation for them is a preferred method to arrange working environment, be it SharePoint workspaces or CRM menus in Outlook.

Following the instructions in the KB article, you can achieve the old favorite folders functionality also in Outlook 2010, but this will require you to disable the Solutions Module. Which, if our understanding is correct, will again turn the flashy CRM folder icons into the generic folders that we see in Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2003. Guess we’ll just have to figure out which is a bigger loss for the end user experience and make a choice, until there is a feature enhancement available for the Outlook 2010 Solutions Module (we hope there’s no technical limitation on why this couldn’t be implemented in a future service pack).

Clashes with Windows Live Essentials

KB2498892: Unable to Configure the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook against Dynamics CRM Online

 Seems like the Windows Live ID authentication in CRM Online has some issues with the “consumer products” for Windows Live. This might not be a big issue in big corporate environments with locked-down client machine configurations that don’t allow using consumer targeted services such as Hotmail or Skydrive. However, as Dynamics CRM Online is clearly making the former enterprise level applications like Customer Relationship Management suites available to even the smallest organizations with its low monthly cost per user and ease of deployment, there’s likely to be more and more users who’ll be transitioning from Microsoft’s consumer product lines to the new cloud-based business product lines, such as CRM Online and Office 365.

Basically you’ll need to run a repair install on the Windows Live ID Sign-in assistant or Windows Live Essentials 2011 to make it compatible with the Outlook client for CRM Online, which is also using Windows Live ID to connect you to the CRM server. That should do the trick.

But wait, isn’t Dynamics CRM Online a business product? Why is it using the WLID authentication method meant for the consumer products? For comparison, here’s an aswer from Allen_MSFT on the Office 365 FAQ to a question regarding weather using Office 365 will require WLID.

“Re Windows Live ID, you don’t need a Windows Live ID to use Office 365 or to use your Windows Phone 7 with Office 365. Windows Live services are for consumers, so they are not linked within the Office 365 portal.”

Indeed. We are waiting for the day when also Dynamics CRM Online will be migrated over to the new Microsoft Online Services Delivery Platform, which will hopefully give us better tools for managing CRM user accounts and authentication.

Missing Outlook ribbon after CRM client installation

KB2494581: The Outlook and CRM ribbons disappear from Microsoft Outlook when you use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Microsoft Office Outlook

Since previous beta version of the CRM 2011 client has been used, even after complete reinstallation of  both Office and CRM, there still remained a few lines in the registry that needed to be removed to get the Outlook ribbon to reappear.

Outlook 2010 really looks naked when the ribbon is gone (not just hidden). We are not sure if there even was a way to do any basic Outlook operations like sending emails with the ribbon completely blank.  The following steps will restore the ribbon (as usual, edit the registry at your own risk):

  • Run Regedit.exe
  • Locate the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\TypeLib\{2DF8D04C-5BFA-101B-BDE5-00AA0044DE52} key
  • Delete the 2.4 key that’s found under it. It’s not needed anymore, there should only be 2.5

Reading pane always shows the contact layout

Dynamics CRM Deployment Forum: CRM 2011 reading pane error in Outlook 2010

 Unfortunately this one doesn’t have a knowledge base article or a fix yet. This issue was encountered  briefly when installing the Beta version of CRM 2011 Outlook client. Back then, all it needed was a reboot and the reading panes and icons were restored. 

With the RTM version of CRM 2011 client, the issue is more persistent. Each and every CRM entity appears as if it was a contact, presented in a business card layout that only contains the entity primary field (name) and not any other data. Click on the image to see an example of the account record shown as a business card with the contact icon.

After installation

After installing Microsoft CRM 2011 Client, make sure to study CRM 2011 Client Configuration Tune-Up to ensure the best performance and the smooth user experience.

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Comments
  • The IE8 browser on Win XP with Outlook 2007 is really quite demanding on client hardware.  I would reccomended people don't try to run CRM 2011 and WinXP and IE8 unless the