After its last high-profile cloud-computing launch, the Office 365, Microsoft has announced that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, its cloud-based CRM offering, will be available worldwide.

The online version of its Dynamics CRM Software will be now available in 40 countries and in 41 languages at a promotional offer of $34 per user per month for 12 months.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: This is the first time we've made a release in the cloud before we have done so in the server version, and I think that really reflects the push by Microsoft into the cloud.

The online version was until now available only in U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

And in a move to glean customers from Saleforce and Oracle's Siebel, Microsoft is offering up to $200 per user for eligible customers who migrate to Dynamic CRM Online until June 30.

The on-premises version of the Dynamic CRM which is currently running in beta will be made available from Feb. 28.

The online Dynamic CRM has been closely integrated with Microsoft Outlook and thus the interface brings the familiarity of Outlook to online CRM. Microsoft is differentiating its cloud-based CRM offering from the likes of Salesforce, on the premise of its integration with other Microsoft cloud and on-premise products like Exhanges, SharePoint and Office.

Craig Unger, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM research and development, said: Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps you get more out of the other technology assets that Microsoft delivers, whether cloud services like Microsoft Lync and Windows Azure or client-based programs like Microsoft Office and Outlook.

Microsoft claims that more than 11,500 customers and 2,000 partners have used the Dynamic CRM 2011 beta version.

However, its competitor Saleforce has moved on even as reports in November suggested that it bagged the HP CRM deal which includes 35,000 to 40,000 seats. HP reportedly dumped Oracle's Seibel to latch on to Salesforce. Saleforce allows a company to handle all their business applications with a single data model, one sharing model, and one user interface. It offers a shared enterprise application that provides for collaboration, reporting, data sharing etc.

Saleforce can trump Microsoft's online CRM offering through its Facebook like feature, Chatter, that it offers to enterprise customers. It leverages the social features popularized by Facebook, Google and Twitter, like profiles, status updates and real-time feeds, empowering enterprises with a new level of productivity. It also launched Chatter Mobile for Apple's iPad, iPhone and new iPod Touch, Google Android and Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices in September.

Also in December Amazon announced that Oracle Apps will be available on its Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2. Most of the apps were PeopleSoft apps which also included PeopleSoft CRM applications. Thus, Oracle also has pitched its online CRM products but through a different route.

Microsoft has been pushing its cloud agenda firmly, in fact the cloud war got murky when in May 2010, Microsoft filed a patent suit against Saleforce citing 9 patents related to creating websites. However, Salesforce laid a counter-punch by suing Microsoft targeting Azure, Windows Live Services including Hotmail and SkyDrive storage. In August, Microsoft and Saleforce settled patent related litigation filed by them against each other. The companies settled for a patent-licensing deal.

Also Microsoft and Google are locked in a tussle to acquire cloud-based deals at federal, state and local government levels. Recently, Google won temporary relief in its cloud-war against Microsoft as it restricted the U.S. Interior Department from handing a $59 million contract to Microsoft.

However, the conflicts and controversies highlight as to how important the cloud domain is to Microsoft since the time chief software architect Ray Ozzie ushered in Microsoft's shift in focus towards cloud-computing, with his Internet Services Disruption memo. The disruption memo resulted in the birthing of Windows Live services, Sharepoint Online, Exchange Online and Windows Azure.