Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Reaches General Availability

"Today, I am pleased to announce that Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 is generally available in 36 countries!" - that was the message late Friday from Dynamics general manager Christian Pedersen on the Edge blog late on Friday, as the December 1 release date approached.

Awareness of the Dynamics AX 2012 R2 release has been growing for the last few month.  In Pedersen's view, the top improvements of R2 is the improved multi-language and multi-locale support in a single Dynamics AX instance. 

"We have remodeled the way we can drive multipel deploymens in a single instance of AX - thta's very releveant for the global rollout for multi-national companies," said Pedersen in a new interview.  The global release includes all supported languages and 36 localizations, with launch efforts around the world.

With the AX 2012 R2 release, Microsoft also wants to hightlight its ability to pull in the latest technology from other divisions, including reporting with Power View and the latest e-commmere capabilities of SharePoint. 

"We now have in-memory BI as an integrated part of R2 - all baked into PowerView," said Pedersen. "We're excited both from a customer perspective and because of the innovation we have driven together with the SQL team.  When SQL Server announced Power View, they announced it by showing AX 2012 R2 with PowerView integrated into it." Similarly, Pedersen says the SharePoint team's e-commerce enhancements were released in conjunction with the AX 2012 R2 release.  "When the SharePoint team announced those e-commerce capabilities, they showed AX 2012 R2 leveraging the feature."

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Customer List View
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Customer List View

Pedersen explained to us back in September that most of the other functional enhancements available in AX 2012 R2 should be evaluated in the context of the Dynamics AX team's continued focus on five verticals: manufacturing, distribution, public sector, professional services, and retail. That includes important enhancements and new features in a broad range of areas including catalog management, budget formulations, intercompany scheduling, security, and lean manufacturing.

Also in September, Hal Howard, corporate vice president of Dynamics ERP engineering, called out several improvements coming in AX 2012 R2 including the launch of US payroll, employee lifecycle management, and the expansion of local compliance capabilities to 11 new countries.

A Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Role Center for a Warehouse Manager
A Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Role Center for a Warehouse Manager

The R2 release introduces several  new pre-configured role centers and new database cubes, as well as improvements in the efficiency of rolling them out. Role centers will be able to use new controls for SQL Server's Power View tool to do more data mash up, including more easily pulling in external data from the cloud.

Microsoft expects that AX 2012 R2 will also help encourage enterprise customers to work with Microsoft to begin working alongside legacy systems, but also to consolidate and replace a range of custom apps across an organization.  Pedersen sees this happening in two ways - by integrating more apps into the Dynamics AX .NET  infrastructure, and by building out new line-of-business apps in AX while leaving the legacy back end in place.

In November, AX 2012 R2 achieved "Certified for Windows 8" compatibility.  The AX 2012 release will continue to see enhancements in 2013, Howard said in September.  One area that may not begin to stagnate, however, is the AX 2012 user interface.  At the Dynamics AX Technical Conference in October, developers were urged to hold off on major UI customizations in the current release.  A new Windows 8 touch-optimized HTML5 interface relying on internet connectivity is coming, representatives said at the time. 

Hal Howard said the next version's new interface will be "fundamentally a new browser-based HTML5 app." And customers looking beyond AX 2012 R2 can expect the next major release of Dynamics AX to include Azure-hosted AX solution options for specific industry needs.

A rundown on available AX 2012 R2 content from Microsoft can be found on the Inside Microsoft Dynamics AX blog, including links to content for users, developers, and administrators, as well as other community resources.  There is also a new book from Microsoft on the product. Partners can access the new release by visiting PartnerSource to download the release and access a new feature list document.

About Jason Gumpert

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Prior to co-founding, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. Jason has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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