Microsoft on Tuesday announced it is finally set to launch its own hosted CRM software later this quarter. Executives said the hosted offering will initially ship only in North America, with international expansion planned at an undisclosed later date.

Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM, the first version of Microsoft’s customer-relationship management software, hopes to lure customers away from current industry leader Salesforce.com by offering below-market prices at $44 per user per month for a professional version, while an enterprise edition will go for $59 per user per month.

The Professional service offers a full-suite CRM through Microsoft Outlook and browser clients, customizable workflow powered by Windows Workflow Foundation, and rich configuration and extensibility capabilities, Brad Wilson, the general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM said. The Enterprise service has all the capabilities of the Professional product as well as offline data synchronization.
The Live CRM offering will be sold exclusively through Microsoft partners, who will be authorized to customize the service for users. Microsoft's entry into the hosted CRM business comes eight years after the debut of Salesforce.com's service, which now claims more than 30,000 customers, relegating Microsoft to a challenger role. However, entering the market with a pricing scheme well under its rivals, might give them a good chance of success.