This fall, Microsoft will be releasing version 2013 of Dynamics CRM, code-named Orion. A new version means brand new features aimed at improving every aspect of the application. In this series of articles, we will take you from user experience and new functionality through technical improvements to the upgrade process to demonstrate that the wide range of transformations make this release notably compelling.

In this article, we will show you how you can get from CRM 2011 to CRM 2013.

CRM Online

Some CRM Online environments use the Windows Live (including Hotmail or sign in. This is the Legacy platform. If you use the Office 365 sign in, this is the Unified platform.  Customers on the Legacy platform will be transitioned to the Unified platform on their billing anniversary.

Billing admins will get notification that they can manually transition 30 days before the automatic transition deadline. They can run a wizard and choose their subscription name (domain name) within the Unified platform.

View of Transition Wizard

Admins will receive a different notification on when they are scheduled to upgrade from CRM 2011 (Polaris) to RM 2013 (Orion). There will be a primary and a secondary upgrade date that will apply if something fails on the primary date.

Customer notification window

These dates can be rescheduled up to 90 days from the original schedule.

Reschedule your transfer date up to 90 days

Notifications will be sent on a schedule.

Notification Cadence

The recommended upgrade process is to sign up for a test instance. Upgrade to this instance to test to preview how your customizations will behave. Once you are satisfied you can schedule the upgrade of your production instance.


CRM 2013 supports specific software.

List of supported software

Customers on CRM 4.0 must upgrade to CRM 2011 before they can upgrade to CRM 2013.

There are two methods to upgrade an On-Premise instance. The first is to do an in-place upgrade.

In-place upgrade screen

The second, and recommended method, is to do a migration upgrade.

Recommended Migration Upgrade

2011 solution files imported to 2013 will be upgraded to 2013 forms and data engine.

Solution Import and Upgrade

Because of a limitation with SQL 2000, CRM custom fields have been stored in extension tables.  So default fields are in a base table and custom fields are in its extension table. Now that SQL 2000 is no longer supported, the base and extension tables in CRM 2013 are merged during the upgrade. The merge can be delayed if you have unsupported customizations that use the separate tables. Once these are fixed you can run some scripts and make registry changes to run the merge.

Base and extension table merge

Once upgraded the user experience will have most of the new capabilities but the form layout can remain as it was in 2011 and later switched to the new structure and use features like Bing maps and social networking.

User experience after upgrade

Unsupported CRM 2011 customizations may not work in 2013. HTML DOM manipulations will throw script errors. The CRM 4.0 client API is not supported any longer.

List of unsupported legacy features

Other articles in this series:

Adam Jenkins

Author Adam Jenkins

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