Outlook Client vs. the Web browser Interface


CRM Clients:



Both Outlook and Web Clients are built on .NET technologies and they are accessible in either of two ways:


  • Through a web application that is running in IE

  • Through a CRM client for Outlook


The web browser client provides a web-based user experience through a zero footprint instance running in IE.  It provides access to all CRM functionalities including the ‘Settings’ Section


The Outlook client provides a Windows-based user experience through a rich Win32 implementation integrated seamlessly with Outllook Client.  You cannot access the ‘Settings’ Option from within Outlook though.


The Web browser Client:


The Web browser Client uses ASP.Net to serve the user interface to Internet Explorer.

Note the following when working with the Browser Client:


  • The application framework is specifically tuned to support high number of users, but without the expense of requiring a large server.

  • The server-side web pages made available to the browser client are the ASP.Net pages processed by the IIS web server.



The Outlook Client:


Outlook client is a feature-rich 32 bit application framework installed upon the local client machine.  It is built to support the web-based application logic; it enables salespeople, customer service representatives and marketing representatives to access CRM from within outlook.


There are two types of CRM clients for outlook:


  • The laptop client

  • The Desktop client


Desktop Client:


One of the few features in CRM 3.0 is the inclusion of an “online only” client for outlook.  This client supports the following multiple user scenarios:


  • Multiple serial users on a shared workstation and

  • Multiple concurrent users for centralized application servers such as Citrix and Terminal Services.


This client can be used when multiple clients need to be installed for outlook or in scenarios where offline is not supported (such as hosting).  In these scenarios, the ability to go offline and the components that support offline use are not required.


Therefore, the desktop client for outlook setup program does not include installation of the following:


  • Local MSDE database

  • Offline Web Server

  • Local platform layer logic


Laptop client:


The laptop client for outlook provides online processing functionality and optional offline functionality.  One of the main features of the laptop client for outlook is that it optionally provides a disconnected user experience for sales, service and marketing representatives who are not always connected to a corporate LAN


During installation, the laptop client setup program installs the following:


  • Local version of the CRM platform logic

  • Local web server

  • Local MSDE database


Differences to note:


For day-to-day work, you can use the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook, but not all Microsoft CRM features are available. If you are working offline, an even smaller subset of features is available.


The following features are not available by default in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook:


  • Knowledge base management

  • Service Calendar

  • Settings


The following entities cannot be edited in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook


  • Articles

  • Products


Mail merge integrates Microsoft CRM 3.0 client for Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft CRM 3.0 with Microsoft Word so that you can create documents that are populated with Microsoft CRM data. You can use these familiar applications to send mail-merged documents through Microsoft Word using a document template (.dot) file.  Note that this feature is available only in Microsoft CRM client for Outlook. In the Web application, use the Direct E-mail feature.


Similarities between Working in Microsoft CRM client for Outlook and Outlook:


Microsoft CRM client for Outlook is integrated with folders and toolbars in Outlook. The Microsoft CRM folder is in the Navigation Pane, under Folders. To view a list of records, click the folder for that record type. The preview pane displays the list and the selected record.

You can access Microsoft CRM functionality on either the Target toolbar or the CRM Shortcut menu.


Differences between Working in Microsoft CRM client for Outlook and Outlook:


Because Microsoft CRM uses standard Microsoft Internet Explorer HTML editing controls, some Outlook features are not available in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook. For example, your Outlook signature line cannot be incorporated into messages, attachments or embedded graphics might not be accepted in templates, and you cannot create bulleted lists. The editing controls you use with most HTML editors however are available in Microsoft CRM. For example, pressing ENTER at the end of a line of text inserts two lines, and pressing SHIFT+ENTER inserts one line.


In the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook you cannot use a drag-and-drop operation to move or copy an Outlook contact into a Microsoft CRM folder.


If you drag a contact to a folder, a new e-mail message is created, but the contact information is neither copied nor moved. To resolve this, close the e-mail message, and then locate Microsoft CRM Help to find how to create a Microsoft CRM contact when working in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook.


If you try to copy or move an Outlook e-mail message into a Microsoft CRM folder by dragging it, the message does not appear in the Microsoft CRM folder even though it has been moved or copied to the folder. You must move the message back to its Outlook folder.


Working Offline


If you have installed the laptop version of the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook, you can select a subset of Microsoft CRM client for Outlook data to take with you offline and on the road. Whenever you go online, your local data is synchronized with the server data so that changes you have made to your local records when you are working offline are synchronized to the Microsoft CRM database. You cannot work offline with the desktop version.


There are a few things that you cannot do, and information that you cannot access when you are offline. For example, running reports and managing users.


For more detailed information refer the online help in CRM 3.0.




Comments (10)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Many people have asked me if i could tell them the diffferences between the Webclient and the Outlook…

  2. Niths says:

    Hi Prashanth,

    That was a really helpful post!

    Would you know how the order of entities in the Outlook client can be changed??? It is quite disconcerting for users to see a different order in the Outlook client from that in the Web client.


  3. Mick Badran says:

    Hi pk,

    Nice post!

    We’re currently installing the CRM Client for laptops and hit a brick wall.

    Our laptops are not part of our Work Domain (various consultants etc. own them and gain VPN access to our network resources)

    It seems like there are no ‘authentication’ configuration options within any of the Outlook Addins.

    i.e. MSCRM Addin – fails! "Cannot connact Server……"

    We can always bring up the pages fine in a browser, just outlook client fails.

    Any thoughts here would be much appreciated.



  4. Russell Darroch says:

    Excellent post. Thanks. If only the MS doco was so clear!

  5. Ananta Pilaka says:

    I am running a terminal server. I installed outlook client for crm in terminal server. The CRM tab on outlook shows up only for the user on whose account the client is installed. It does not show up for other user.


  6. Saritha says:


    Thanks for the information provided in this post.

  7. ...1 says:

    Great site! Good luck to it’s owner!

  8. UnitekMichael says:

    Main considerations for most organizations include user adoption, ability to go offline, and specific functionality, such as mail merge. Word Mail merge is a nice tool, with the Outlook client, but ISV’s like the Web Client.

  9. Gopal Reddy says:

    Excellent,this article given good answers for my questions.

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