Back in August I wrote about my initial experiences of using a Windows 8 PC with Office 2013 to connect the Outlook client to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. During that time we only had the preview versions of both the OS and Office, so some quirks were naturally to be expected. Now that Windows 8 is generally available and also the RTM bits of Office 2013 can be downloaded from MSDN (with commercial launch expected by end of January), it’s a good moment to revisit the topic. Upon my latest test I came across a few configuration gotchas that I though might be useful to share for anyone who’s struggling with the same issues.
Connecting to CRM Online with WLID
Our official work setup is still on Windows 7 / Office 2010 level, but being the kind of eager early adopter that I am, my home PC’s have moved to the brave new world of Windows 8 some time ago already. I installed Office Professional Plus 2013 on a Windows 8 64-bit laptop that’s not joined to a domain, so my login credentials to Windows are linked to my Microsoft Account (previously known as Windows Live ID). In my first tests in August this was a blocker for using a CRM Online organization where the user’s WLID / Microsoft Account was different in CRM and on the local machine.
Update Rollup 11 removed the need to manually enable Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) on Windows 8, but out of old habits I checked that it was available before configuring CRM. Launching the CRM client Configuration Wizard and selecting CRM Online on the Server URL field of the Configure Organizations prompt gave a familiar error: “Cannot connect to Microsoft Dynamics CRM server because we cannot authenticate your credentials.” Just like before, it appears that the Configuration Wizard automatically attempts to use the Microsoft Account of the local user for logging in to CRM Online. Logging out of the account in Internet Explorer and then logging in to CRM Online in the browser didn’t seem to resolve the issue with the Outlook client connectivity, as a further error message was presented later in the Initializing the Organization phase:
There is a problem communicating with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM server. The server might be unavailable. Try again later. If the problem persists, contact your system administrator.
Unable to load the native components of SQL Server Compact corresponding to the ADO.NET provider of version 8082. Install the correct version of SQL Server Compact. Refer to KB article 974247 for more details.
The KB article referenced in the error message discusses the following issue: “You receive an error message when you run a SQL Server Compact 3.5-based application after you install the 32-bit version of SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 Service Pack 2 on an x64 computer.” However, downloading and installing the x64 version of Microsoft SQL Server Compact 3.5 Service Pack 2 for Windows Desktop didn’t resolve the CRM configuration error, so I opened a support ticket with Microsoft. They instructed me that I also needed to install the Cumulative Update 2 for SQL Server Compact 3.5 Service Pack 2, which is a hotfix that you need to request a download link to be sent to you by email. After my SQL CE 3.5 had been updated to build 3.5.8082.00, I was finally able to connect my Outlook 2013 with our CRM Online demo organization.
Connecting to CRM on-premise with IFD
During the previous test with CRM Online I had also tried to connect the Outlook 2013 CRM client to our production on-premise CRM server that is IFD configured. I kept receiving the following error: “Cannot connect to Microsoft Dynamics CRM server because we cannot authenticate your credentials. Check your connection or contact your administrator for more help.” Looking at the error details there was a message claiming “no credentials are available in the security package.”
Having struggled with the CRM Online connectivity issue, I naturally assumed that it was the same issue with Windows 8 or Outlook 2013 compatibility that was blocking my access to the on-prem server. Especially the fact that I wasn’t getting prompted for credentials at all before seeing the error lead me to believe this was the case. However, the actual solution was much more straightforward than the SQL CE hotfixes. All I needed to do was enter my credentials as DOMAIN\username instead of the username@domain format. While the ADFS 2.0 login screen in Internet Explorer accepts both formats, the Outlook client Configuration Wizard doesn’t. However, because of the fact that my credentials for the CRM server URL had already been cached on IE’s side, I assume the Outlook client attempts to use the username@domain format the first time the URL is entered in the Configure Organizations prompt, even though it’s not capable of authenticating with them.
Connecting to CRM Online with Office 365
I was going to end this post on a high note and test how easy everything is when connecting to a brand new CRM Online organization running on the OSDP platform, meaning an organization using the Office 365 / Microsoft Online Services user account for authentication instead of the consumer grade Microsoft Account / WLID setup of CRM Organizations created before July 2012. Unfortunately this was not possible, as I’m now encountering the following error message whenever I try to open the CRM Configuration Wizard: “An item with the same key has already been added. at System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary`2.Insert(TKey key, TValue value, Boolean add).”
OK, I give up. I’m not sure whether this is caused by the brand new Update Rollup 12 that I installed for my CRM Outlook client, but I can’t be bothered to start over and uninstall everything. At least I now have two CRM’s connected to my Outlook 2013 and they’re working perfectly by the looks of things.
At some point I will inevitably need to re-configure that old CRM Online organization, though. Microsoft is finally moving on with transitioning old CRM Online organizations from the CTP platform onto the new OSDP one. As all the CTP organizations will be migrated by Q4/2013, based on the information available in the CRM Online Transition Center, there will come a time when Windows Live ID will be history in terms of any Dynamics CRM connections.