Death of Classic (C/SIDE) Client

tomb_guardYesterday, during a coffee break at the What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Technical for Application Consultants training in Vilnius, Lithuania (a fabulous place, by the way), a discussion arose around the destiny of the Classic (or C/SIDE) client in NAV. Some participants stated that “it’s never going to go away” because “Microsoft would not dare shutting it down”.

Unfortunately, it is going away, and quickly. Maybe it wasn’t too obvious at first, because Microsoft never actually said explicitly that “Classic client is going to be discontinued”, but if you read the latest Statement of Direction for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, it’s there.

Basically, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 is the last version which ships with the customer-ready Classic client. The next version, code named NAV “7”, will still come with the Classic client, but only as an administration and development tool. There is one minor and even elusive, but significant remark in the Statement of Direction, when it talks about Improving Partner Productivity:

…and we therefore plan to discontinue forms as well as the forms transformation tool in Microsoft Dynamics NAV “7”…

For Microsoft Dynamics NAV “7”, Microsoft SQL Server is the only database platform Microsoft Dynamics NAV will support.

Discontinuing the forms means exactly the same as discontinuing the Classic client, because without forms, there’s not much the Classic client can do. Not having the Classic (native) database platform available, doesn’t leave much room for Classic client either. But even without reading the latest SOD, this direction was obvious since the first release of NAV 2009: Classic database could not be deployed with the RTC client, which has sent a strong signal that it was slowly, but certainly being ushered out.

A natural question which springs from this is “okay, then when is this going to happen”? The answer to that one is also very simple: in 2011 or 2012, when NAV “7” hits the shelves.

According to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy and the Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 published Product Lifecycle, the mainstream support for NAV 2009 ends on April 8th, 2014. After this date, the Classic client will have no official Microsoft Support, except for security updates and existing knowledge base access. Warning: the days in calendar are closer than they appear!

So, what can you, as an NAV service provider, do to avoid difficulties once Classic client is gone for good? Here are some of suggestions:

  • Start believing in RTC, the sooner, the better
  • Upgrade customers to SQL Server
  • Avoid doing any new implementations using Classic client
  • Avoid parallel deployments of RTC and Classic
  • Advertise the benefits of RoleTailored to all new customers
  • Build internal competencies around .NET, SQL Server and Web services

I know that it will be difficult to push for RTC if you are not believing in it, and if you are only looking at its shortcomings. Yes, there are still far too many issues around productivity with data entry (copy/paste of rows, filtering, coloring, matrix forms, just to name a few), performance and robustness, but still, even if Microsoft doesn’t resolve these (but Microsoft is working around the clock to resolve them)—what other options do you have?

9 thoughts on “Death of Classic (C/SIDE) Client”

  1. What other option ?

    Setup open-source project to build another ‘classic’ client capable of interpreting NAV objects exported to text file and executing C/AL Code ?

    After all C/AL is very simple, and all NAV power is business login and in what you can do in C/AL, not in what C/AL can do…

  2. I do not see how end client who using NAV will benefit from this decision. Let’s be realistic – 90% or more customers still using old client. They invested hundreds of thousands into implementations and what’s important into user interface customization…
    They will have to repeat it again if they decide to switch to NAV 7. Current price point to upgrade all forms to RTC is unreasonable for any client. NAV 7 cannot justify investment – what I will get at the end: the same but looks slightly different. Microsoft does not plan to release any real functionality improvements or performance improvements in next version.
    So what is the alternative for customers:
    1. Stop paying support – cant use future version so no need to pay support
    2. Use NAV 2009 R2 for next 3-5 years
    3. buy new version of after 3 years (It is cheaper to buy new NAV in 3 years, max 4 than pay support)
    I believe we will see a lot of customers making this decision. But unfortunately not everyone will buy NAV again.

  3. “Microsoft does not plan to release any real functionality improvements or performance improvements in next version.”
    Not exactly true, dude. Please read the SOD.
    Thanks to the innovation (three tier model) a LOT of opportunities come available: .Net Interoperability, proper SQL Server (no ODBC) use, x64 server, web services, client extensibility visualisations, RDLC reporting, unicode, … .
    And beleive me, A LOT is planned regaring performance and other improvements. Things that wouldn’t be possible in the old classic environment .. which was based on old technology.. .

  4. @Waldo: thanks, pal! I didn’t care much to reply to Valentin’s comment, but I probably should have done so as well.

    @Valentin: apart from Waldo says, your calculation about “cheaper to buy NAV in 3 years” is also not right. With current rate of enhancement fee, it’s more than 6 years. Furthermore, “Stop paying support” is not a viable option – growing the number of users, ordering new tables, and some similar simple license housekeeping tasks will be impossible without paying support. I cannot say I fully support that decision, but I understand it, and I would never recommend to any customer to stop paying support.

  5. Hope to meet you again in Vilnius soon, Vjelko! 🙂
    Eurobasket’11 just on the corner – believe we’ll support Croatian team together… ;)))

    1. @Apolinaras: it was nice to meet you too, and I hope we get another chance soon as well. I just wanted to let you know that I found out that not only Croatia does have a team in Euroleague, but that it also plays in the same group as Lietuvos Rytas 🙂 So – I must make sure I wear the right cap for the next match 🙂

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