It’s only Wednesday, but Microsoft made two big announcements this week. First, the company’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform nabbed another customer win. Then, Microsoft released a study from Forrester Consulting that shows how businesses can get a significant return on investment using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

Microsoft Dynamics produces major ROI. On Tuesday, Microsoft released the results of a Microsoft-commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, “The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,” May 2011. The Total Economic ImpactTM, a standard methodology developed by Forrester Research Inc., captures and quantifies the voice of the customer relative to technology investments. This study concludes that a 2,000-employee composite organization with an initial deployment of 50 users would experience a three-year, risk-adjusted ROI of 243 percent over a payback period of 4.1 months. Forrester Consulting credits the familiar, intelligent and connected experiences delivered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 as fundamental to the ROI and rapid payback period.

Microsoft lands another Windows Azure customer. Microsoft announced Monday that Orion Energy Systems (NYSE Amex: OESX) is using the Windows Azure platform to host InteLite, a sensor-and-control solution designed to help Orion customers save energy and control lighting costs. This move will enable building managers to view energy-consumption data from multiple facilities on the Windows Azure platform, while providing Orion with approximately a $57,000 savings each year in hardware, labor and maintenance costs. Get the whole story in this press release.

Leverage iPhone dev expertise for Windows Phone apps. How can you leverage your iPhone development expertise to build Windows Phone 7 applications? According to the Windows Phone Blog, “There’s no magic wand that will do the work for you, but we have put together a great package to help you get started. It’s available at http://windowsphone.interoperabilitybridges.com/.” The folks at the Interoperability @ Microsoft Blog also weighed in on the topic.

Boost work productivity using social media…Wait a sec! While it may seem counterintuitive that one could become more productive at work using social media, it’s actually quite possible to do so. According to this Monday post on the Microsoft Office Blog, “Companies such as Getronics/KPN and Catapult Systems have used the Outlook Social Connector to promote professional social interaction and knowledge sharing among employees who are located in different offices.” Check it out.

Windows Thin PC release candidate now available. Microsoft Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) enables customers to repurpose existing PCs as thin clients by providing a smaller footprint; a locked down version of Windows 7. On Monday, we announced that the WinTPC release candidate is now available for download from the WinTPC RC site.

Bing Maps Global Ortho Project. In this April 28th post on the Next at Microsoft Blog, blog editor Steve Clayton writes about the Bing Maps Global Ortho Project, “an effort that has been quietly and methodically improving the imagery of Bing Maps.”

Internet Explorer 9. The folks on the IEBlog continue to churn out helpful posts for developers. In this April 27th post, IE Program Manager Tony Ross blogs about Compat Inspector, a JavaScript-based testing tool that analyzes your site while it runs. “Compat Inspector reports patterns of interaction which cause issues in standards mode,” Ross writes. And in this Monday post, IE Program Manager Herman Ng blogs about ActiveX Filtering for developers.

Windows Azure training kit update. The April 2011 update of the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit is now available for download. This version has been updated to the Windows Azure SDK 1.4 and Visual Studio 2010 SP1. It also includes new and updated hands-on labs (HOLs) and a demo for the new Windows Azure AppFabric portal. The Windows Azure Platform Training Kit includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Midweek Download!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog