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What's new for administrators and customizers in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and CRM Online

Applies To: CRM 2015 on-prem, CRM Online

Learn about what’s new for administrators and customizers in the release. More information: Help & Training: What's new

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online organizations, the following features are available only if your organization has updated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1. These features are not available for Dynamics CRM (on-premises).

Form rendering enhancements

With Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1, we've made enhancements to Microsoft Dynamics CRM forms so that they load faster. However, if you have forms that include unsupported customizations, these enhancements can cause compatibility problems. To avoid these compatibility problems, you can temporarily turn off the form enhancements in System Settings by setting Use legacy form rendering to Yes. More information: How to check an organization for unsupported customizations

The Use legacy form rendering setting is expected to be removed in the next major release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Therefore, we recommend that you update your customizations as soon as possible and set Use legacy rendering to No to take advantage of the form rendering enhancements.

When a form is used that has unsupported customizations, such as unsupported JavaScript, the user will receive an error message. To see information about the error, choose View the data that will be sent to Microsoft and see the details within the CrmScriptErrorReport tags.

“Older Than X” clause improvements

Earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM were limited to the Older Than X Months clause for filtering by using Older Than. You can now filter on additional units of time including minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years. The Older Than X clauses can be used with Advanced Find, the saved view editor, and queries that are based on FetchXML.

Use server-based authentication with CRM Online and SharePoint

Administrators can configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online authentication with SharePoint (on-premises) to use server-based authentication. When you use server-based authentication, users don’t need to sign in to SharePoint and the list control isn’t required to display SharePoint documents in Microsoft Dynamics CRM views. More information: Configure server-based authentication with Dynamics CRM Online and SharePoint on-premises

Enable Web API Preview

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Web API provides a network-based communication and messaging interface to the Dynamics CRM web services. The Dynamics CRM Web API Preview lets developers learn and experiment with the capabilities of the web API in future releases and provide feedback. As a CRM administrator, you can enable or disable the Web API Preview for an organization in the web application by going to Settings > Administration > System Settings and selecting the Previews tab.

More information: Enable Web API Preview

Change the color scheme or add a logo to match your organization’s brand

You can create a custom look and feel, a theme, for your application by making changes to the default colors and visual elements provided in the uncustomized CRM system. For example, you can create your personal product branding, add a company logo, and provide entity-specific coloring. The theme colors are applied globally throughout the application, with the exception of some legacy areas, such as gradient buttons. A theme is created by using the customization tools in the user interface, without requiring a developer to write code. The theme customization is supported in Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook. The changes made for an organization's theme aren’t included in solutions exported from the organization. To learn how to export\import a custom theme, see: Manage configuration data. You can define multiple themes, but only one can be set and published as the default theme.

More information:
Change the color scheme or add a logo to match your organization’s brand
Help & Training: Change the color scheme or add a log to match your organization’s brand

New behavior and format of the date and time field

Previously, the behavior of the Date and Time field was limited to the current user's local time zone. With this “time zone aware” behavior, we couldn’t properly address cases, where the date and time needed to be presented independently of the user’s local time zone, such as birthdays or hotel check-in time. In this release, we introduced two new time zone independent behaviors for the Date and Time data type to address such cases:

  • Date Only

  • Time Zone Independent

More information: Behavior and format of the date and time field

Calculated field enhancements

You can now compute the difference between the two dates by using new built-in functions available for calculated fields: DIFFINDAYS, DIFFINHOURS, DIFFINMINUTES, DIFFINMONTHS, DIFFINWEEKS, DIFFINYEARS.

More information: Define calculated fields

Rollup field enhancements

Rollup fields help you obtain insights into data by monitoring key business metrics. In this release, we’re further enriching your experience with rollup fields by adding new capabilities that include:

  • Calculations using the AVG operator.

  • Aggregating data across all activities related to a record, such as phone calls, emails, or appointments.

  • Aggregating data across all activities related to a record and activities indirectly related to a record via the Activity Party entity. For example, by using the Activity Party participation types, you can include emails where the account is listed only on the To: and Cc: lines for aggregation.

More information: Define rollup fields

Clear field values with business rules

Enhancements to business rules let you clear field values, on the client and server, to ensure correctness of your CRM records - all without writing a single line of code!

More information: Create and edit business rules

Move back to the previous stage of the process flow on a different entity

A new capability in Microsoft Dynamics CRM lets you go back to the previous stage in the business process flow regardless of entity type. For example, if the active stage is Deliver Quote on a quote record, you can move the active stage back to the Propose stage on an opportunity record. In another example, suppose, you are currently in the Present Proposal stage in your process flow: Qualify Lead > Identify Needs > Create Proposal > Present Proposal > Close. If the proposal presented to the customer requires more research to identify customer needs, you can simply select the Identify Needs stage of your process and choose Set Active.

More information: Enhance business process flows with branching

Call custom actions from workflows or dialogs

Workflows and dialogs have numerous capabilities supporting business scenarios. Until now, you could call basic SDK actions, such as create, update, and delete a record, from within a workflow or a dialog. While this solves quite a few business scenarios, in this release, we coupled the capabilities of the workflows and dialogs with the power of the custom actions. Now you can invoke a custom action directly from within a workflow or a dialog, without writing any code.

More information: Invoke custom action from a workflow or dialog

Create alternate keys for referencing records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

To improve performance of certain operations in CRM systems and help correctly identify data imported into CRM from external systems, we provided a new way of uniquely referencing records in CRM through alternate keys. Until now, the records in CRM were only referenced by unique identifiers, known as GUIDs. However, some external systems can’t be extended to store CRM record GUIDs. For these cases, you can now reference records by using alternate keys that aren’t GUIDs. An alternate key has a unique name and you use one or more entity fields to define the key, for example, account name and account number. While you can define an alternate key in the Customization area in the web application (Components >Entities > Entity <X> > Keys), the key can only be used programmatically, in code.

More information: Define alternate keys to reference CRM records

Easy navigation with the remodeled navigation bar

With the new navigation bar design, you can find information easier and faster, even if you have to navigate through a large number of entities. We also provided an access to most recently viewed records (up to 30 records) and easy navigation in large forms with hundreds of fields.

More information:
Video: New navigation tour
Help & Training: Get around in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, CRM for Outlook, and mobile devices

Set up knowledge management in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Having a rich knowledge base is important in increasing customer satisfaction as well as improving productivity of sales, service, and marketing teams. Knowledge base in Parature, from Microsoft provides a way to easily create and organize rich content, that can be delivered both internally to the service agents and to customers through all service channels at the right time to prevent frequently asked questions.

Enable your users to quickly access the rich Parature knowledge base from Microsoft Dynamics CRM by setting up knowledge base management in CRM.

After you set up knowledge management in CRM, you can add the Knowledge Management Search control in CRM entity forms, including custom entities, so that users can search for knowledge base articles in Parature right from a CRM record. This control includes new form script APIs that developers can use to extend the capabilities that the control offers. See MSDN: Form script support for the new Knowledge Management (KM) integration with Parature in What’s New in CRM for Developers.

Full-featured phone and mobile app and phone-specific customizations

The new Phone Mobile Client Application features the “design once, deploy everywhere” paradigm. It allows administrators to deliver to users of smartphone devices the same feature-rich experience available on CRM for tablets, which includes full support for charts, processes, multiple dashboards, customization and business logic written using business rules or JavaScript. The administrator also has the option of optimizing the phone experience even further by selectively hiding parts of entity forms on tab, section, or field levels.

More information: Set up and manage phones and tablets and Customize CRM for phones and tablets

Provision and enable Office 365 Groups

You can choose to add the Office 365 Groups integration solution so Office 365 users can share documents, have conversations, reference a shared calendar, and collaborate on a shared Microsoft OneNote with others in the same Office 365 tenant – including those not licensed for CRM Online. Once you add the solution, you can specify which entities are enabled for Groups.

More information: Enable Office 365 Groups

Enable CRM integration with Outlook Web App

You can deploy this Preview feature – the Microsoft Dynamics CRM App for Outlook - so your users can track and set regarding emails from any device running Outlook Web App.

More information: Add and enable the CRM App for Outlook

Switch or delete an instance of CRM Online

CRM Online customers can switch their instance type from Production to Sandbox or Sandbox to Production. You could use this to take your customization work that you’ve tested in Sandbox to Production for all customers to access. You can delete CRM Online Sandbox instances to recover the licenses and storage space or to prevent them from being used by mistake. In order to delete a production instance, you must first switch to a Sandbox instance and then delete the Sandbox instance.

Switching and deleting instances will be available soon after Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 is released.

More information: Switch an instance and Delete an instance

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Good

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Good is a special version of CRM for tablets that works with Good Technology’s mobile security platform. Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Good is currently supported for Apple iPad running iOS 7 or later. To use Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Good, you must have Good Dynamics server software and services from Good Technology. The app is listed in the Good Dynamics Marketplace and can be downloaded from the Apple App store.

More information: Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Good

Enable track changes to control data synchronization

Large CRM organizations that synchronize their data with external data sources can now enable entities for change tracking, which will enable a new change tracking API to be executed against the given entity. Using the new API, you can reduce the load on your server resources and save processing time when extracting CRM data and syncing it to an external store.

More information: Enable change tracking to control data synchronization

Map Exchange folders with CRM records to automatically track emails in CRM

You can enable folder-level tracking for Exchange folders to map an Exchange Inbox folder to a CRM record so that all the emails in the Exchange folder get automatically tracked against the mapped record in CRM. Consider an example where you have an account called “Adventure Works” in CRM. You can create a folder in Microsoft Outlook called “Adventure Works” under your Inbox folder, and create some Exchange rules to automatically route the emails to the “Adventure Works” folder based on the subject or the body of an email. Next, in CRM you can map your Exchange folder (Adventure Works) with the account record (Adventure Works) to automatically track all the emails in CRM that land in the Adventure Works Exchange folder, and set the regarding object as the Adventure Works account record in CRM.

More information: Configure folder-level tracking

Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers customizable help and tooltips to provide contextual information to users filling in forms. With customizable Help, you can control and override the out-of-the-box Help experience. You’ll be able to provide entity-specific or organization-specific Help, making the content exposed through the Help links more relevant to the user’s day-to-day activities. The customizable Help is available at a global (organization) level or per entity. You can use a single, global URL to override the out-of-the-box Help links for all customizable entities. Per-entity URLs override the out-of-the-box Help links on grids and forms for a specific customizable entity. Also, you can include additional parameters in the URL, such as language code and entity name. These parameters allow a developer to add functionality to redirect the user to a page that is relevant for their language or the entity context within the application. Custom tooltips provide the ability to set the text that appears as a tooltip when the field is displayed in a form.

More information: Customize the Help experience

Previously, you were able to create hierarchies of related records using self-referential relationships, but you had to iteratively query for the related records. New capabilities will let you query and view the records as hierarchies. To query an entity as a hierarchy you must enable a One-to-Many (1:N) or Many-to-One (N:1) self-referential relationship as hierarchical. You’ll be able to query records using Under and Not Under logic. The Under and Not Under hierarchical operators are exposed through Advanced Find and the workflow editor. For more information on how to use these operators, see Configure workflow steps.

You can gain valuable business insights by visualizing hierarchically related data. The new visualization feature gives you a hierarchical view into the data. You’ll be able to enable visuals for specific system entities and custom entities after you have updated the hierarchy settings for the entity. Users can choose between a tree view, which shows the entire hierarchy, and a tile view, which is a detailed view of a smaller portion of the hierarchy. You can explore a hierarchy by expanding and contracting a hierarchy tree. Also, you can compare the attributes between the records at multiple levels in a tree and perform actions on one or more records right from the tree view. Once defined, the hierarchy settings enable visualization in the CRM web application and in Microsoft Dynamics CRM for tablets, but, for the tablets, in a modified format suitable for the smaller form factor. Because these visualizations are solution components, they can be transported between organizations like any other customization. You can configure the attributes shown in the visualization by using the customization tools in the CRM Web application. There is no requirement to write code.

More information: Query and visualize hierarchical data

In addition to an existing security model that uses business units, security roles, sharing, and teams, you’ll have a new security model for working with hierarchies. You can use the new security model in conjunction with all other existing security models to achieve a more granular access to the records. One of the security options is the management chain, which gives managers access to the records of their reports. Another option is the position hierarchy. You can define different job roles in the organization and arrange them in the position hierarchy. Then, you tag a user with a particular position in the hierarchy. Users at the higher positions have access to the records of the users at the lower positions.

More information: Hierarchy security

Many businesses have sensitive data that should only be viewable or editable by certain users. Previously with field-level security, you could restrict access to custom fields, now you can restrict access in other fields as well. For example, admins can enable the Account Number field to be viewed but not changed by members of the sales team.

More information: How field security affects synchronization between CRM and CRM for Outlook

The rollup fields are used to capture key business metrics at a record level from related entities with One-to-Many (1:N) relationships. The rollup fields also provide the ability to aggregate over hierarchies for more complex scenarios. You can define the entity rollup fields as decimal or whole numbers, currency, and date/time. For example, a salesperson may want to know:

  • How many leads they’re working on

  • A total revenue for the open opportunities related to the account

  • A total number of high priority open cases related to the account

The aggregates are rolled up from the child records to the parent record. A maximum of 100 rollup fields can be defined within an organization and each entity can have no more than 10 rollup fields. The rollup fields are calculated by asynchronous system jobs. The Calculate Rollup Field is a recurring job that runs according to the recurrence pattern. The Mass Calculate Rollup Field job runs once, when a rollup field is added or updated. Because the rollup fields are solution components, they can be easily transported between organizations and distributed in solutions. 

More information: Define rollup fields

Often, users are looking for data that is a result of some calculation. For example, a salesperson may want to know the weighted revenue for an opportunity, which is based on the estimated revenue from an opportunity multiplied by the probability. To provide this data, you can define the calculated fields in the CRM user interface without needing to write code. The calculated fields contain a value that is calculated based on conditions and a formula defined within this field. The conditions and formulas can refer to the values of the other fields in the same entity or values of the fields in the related entities. You can define a calculated field to contain values resulting from many common calculations, such as simple math operators, and conditional operations, such as Greater-Than or If-Else, and many others.

More information: Define calculated fields

Business process flows guide you through various stages of sales, marketing, or service processes toward completion. In this release, we will further improve your user experience and efficiency while working with business process flows. We are introducing a branching capability to allow you to design more complex and comprehensive process flows. As an administrator, you’ll use the new If-Else-Or logic to add multiple branches to the sequential flow. The branching condition can be formed of multiple logical expressions that use a combination of AND or OR operators. Once in place, the branch selection is done automatically, in real time, based on rules defined during the process definition. For example, in selling cars, you can configure a single business process flow, which after a common qualification stage splits into two branches on the basis of a rule (Is the buyer’s budget below $10,000 or above? Does the buyer prefer only new cars? And so on) – one for selling new cars and another for selling used cars.

In addition, the introduction of the client API for business process flows provides complete programmatic access to active processes available to the user. With JavaScript code, implemented by one of your developers, it’s now possible to ensure that the user is always working on the right stage of the right process in any given situation. The events (such as moving and selecting stages) have been exposed, to permit an action to be taken not just in the context of the process, but in the context of the stage that the user is working on and currently viewing.

More information: Enhance business process flows with branching

In the initial release of business rules, you could only evaluate whether all conditions in a rule were true. In this release, you can use multiple logical expressions, with combined OR and AND operators, to define a more complex and rich business logic. With added support of the If-Else operators, creating branching logic is a simpler task. The business process flow branching capability is built on the new If-Else logic.

In addition, we will provide a capability to evaluate the business rules on the server. When you set the scope of the business rule at an entity level, the rule is evaluated on the server. In the previous release, we provided a simple declarative interface for you to apply form logic without writing JavaScript code. But, the rule logic was only evaluated in the clients that supported business rules, such as the CRM web application or CRM for tablets. For the business rule logic that had to be evaluated on the server and applied to all clients you still needed to implement the plug-ins and run them on the server. With this release, you will be able to evaluate the business rules on the server and apply them to all clients without writing code. For example, you can move the logic for commonly used scenarios out of plug-ins into the entity-level business rules that you define in the CRM user interface. Also, the support for setting default values has been added to the business rules. For example, if a company named “Contoso” does business only in the United States, a simple business rule can be implemented that on creation of an incoming lead, the country/region is automatically set to “U.S.A.”

More information: Create and edit business rules

In this release, we are introducing a richer, easier to configure product catalog that may help your company sell your products more efficiently. A sales operations manager can configure the product catalog to contain fewer SKUs, create product and service bundles as an attractive and cost effective offering, and define up-sell and cross-sell of products. As an administrator, you’ll define system-level settings related to the product catalog and exportand import the product catalog configuration data across CRM servers. For example, after the product catalog configuration is fully tested on the test server, you can move the configuration data to the production environment, without having to recreate it. To perform the migration, use the Configuration Migration Tool: Manage configuration data.

More information: Manage product catalog configuration

More information: Help & Training: What's new

You can disable the welcome screen (navigation tour) for the entire organization. When it’s turned off, the welcome screen isn’t presented to users every time they sign in to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

More information: Turn off the welcome screen (navigation tour)

You can bring powerful social insights into your organization by connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Microsoft Social Engagement. With the new release, we will be expanding this functionality from CRM Online to CRM (on-premises). You’ll need to have a subscription to Social Engagement and be an authorized Social Engagement user before you can connect CRM (on-premises) to Social Engagement.

More information: Connect to Microsoft Social Engagement

With configurable field synchronization, admins will be able to set the sync direction (one-way or two-way) between Outlook or Exchange and CRM fields, or keep fields from synchronizing at all. For example, a salesperson may want to make personal notes about a contact. You can set the Personal Notes field for contacts in Outlook to not synchronize with CRM so the salesperson’s notes remain private.

More information: Control field synchronization between CRM and Outlook or Exchange

In the newly redesigned Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook Configuration Wizard, system administrators will be able to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) through the OAuth 2.0 Framework. OAuth 2.0 is an open framework for authorization that enables users to provide access tokens, instead of credentials, to access their data that is hosted by a given service provider (such as CRM). Using MFA can help make client authentication more secure, especially for mobile users. CRM Online and on-premises versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 can take advantage of MFA; Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 on-premises requires at least Windows Server 2012 R2.

More information: Enable multi-factor authentication through OAuth

For multinational companies with employees and customers distributed around the world, you can create and manage CRM Online instances specific to your global regions. You can create an instance in a different region than where your CRM Online tenant resides. Local instances can provide quicker data access for users in that region.

More information: Create and edit multiregional instances

Marketing users want to see Marketing dashboards on their tablets. Service personnel want to see Service dashboards. Admins and customizers can set the various CRM Online dashboards to be enabled for CRM for tablets users. It’s not just the Sales dashboard anymore!

More information: What the admin needs to do in Set up CRM for tablets.


Tab name in the security role dialog Name displayed in the dialog Privilege type More information


Publish SharePoint Integration Wizard


Configure server-based authentication with Dynamics CRM Online and SharePoint on-premises

Business Management

Channel Property Group


For internal use only.

Business Management

Mailbox Auto Tracking Folder


Configure folder-level tracking

Business Management

CRM for mobile

Privacy Related

Set up CRM for phones and CRM for tablets

Business Management

CRM for phones express

Privacy Related

Set up CRM for phones express

Service Management

Knowledge Base Record


Connect Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Parature knowledge base

Service Management

Record Creation and Update Rule


For internal use only.

Service Management

Control Decrement Terms


Create an entitlement to define the support terms for a customer


Entity Key


Define alternate keys to reference CRM records


Plug-in Trace Log


System Settings dialog box – Customization tab




Change the color scheme or add a logo to match your organization’s brand

See Also

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