The history of Dynamics NAV / Navision

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Page Details

First published by:
Erik P. Ernst
on 2008-11-29
Last revision by:
Erik P. Ernst
on 2015-10-12
38 people found this article useful.

97% of people found this useful
The history of Dynamics NAV / Navision

This wiki page on the history of Dynamics NAV has been written and updated since 2010, but based on an older post. If you have additional information, or good "stories" about some of the bigger events, in the history of Navision, then please either update the page, comment, or send me (Erik/ the story, if you don't want/can do it you self. Also links to any news articles would be great.

1983 to 1987 - Personal Computing & Consulting - PC&C was founded

The company PC&C was founded founded by Jesper Balser, Peter Bang and Torben Wind in Copenhagen, Denmark.

PCPlus (1984) - Finance, Customers, Vendors and Inventory.

The first accounting solution released

In 1984 the first accounting solution was released in Denmark & Norway. PCPlus was a character-based accounting solution for SOHO (small office/home office) market. It was only single user system, but as being fully designed to run on one of the new IBM PC or PC-compatible personal computers. Had had grown in popularity and had for the first time allowed small companies to afford and use computer. Now PC&C had delivered one of the first accounting systems, and the users loved it.

“Beauty of Simplicity”

The first company slogan was in use until end of the 1990'ies. It was not just a slogan, but their key to designing software. Despite no longer in use, then its very clear that this slogan still is the very heart of Dynamics NAV

1987 to 1989 - Navision is born

Navigator was released in 1987. This first version of Navision basically looked like an upgrade of PCPlus. The biggest change was that it was a able to run as a client/server application over a LAN. PCPlus was a single-user system.

In the beginning Navigator was only sold in Denmark and here it was distributed by IBM to their Erhvervscenters (business centers), who was required to fulfill a long number of certifications before they where allowed to sell the product. In Denmark Navision was called Navigator or most often IBM-Navigator. A practice both Navision and Microsoft since have repeated on and off.

From left the founders Jesper Balser and Peter Bang. The right is the thrid found Torben Wind. In the middle IBM Denmark's CEO Hans Christian Ægidius and Ole Anker Larsen.

From left the founders Jesper Balser and Peter Bang. The right is the thrid found Torben Wind. In the middle IBM Denmark's CEO Hans Christian Ægidius and Ole Anker Larsen.

Was Navision just an upgrade of PCPlus?

The former distributor of PCPlus was not happy to see the distribution of Navision being changed to IBMI. Especially not when they saw how quickly IBM-Navigator became among the top accounting systems for small-midsize companies. They made a legal claim to the distribution. Navision was according to their claim, just a multi-user version of PCPlus. The court did not agree, their could also see that, despite much of the look and feel was the same, then Navision was much more.

The rights to PCPlus was later sold to one of the biggest PCPlus partners (?? do you know who, please comment or update), who with smaller technical updates continued supporting the system to 2010. But there are still many small companies in Denmark who continues to use it in 2015.

(1987 - Navigator 1)

1990 to 1994 - the global customizable erp solution

Navision Software launches Navision version 3.0 in 1990 (later 1989?). This was a big change to the previous versions, as it now allowed partners to change the core of the system. Previously it had been just enough open to allow their partners to change certain objects, like reports and tables. Now "everything" was open.

Introduced was "AL" a development application language based on the Pascal development language. At this time Pascal is the most teached development language in Denmark. This allowed the user with an AL-key to do very advanced modifications, compared to both the previous versions (where only reports, tables and forms could be changed). In fact they where unique in the market at that time.

Only a few years later Navision's biggest competitor at this time, the also Danish company Damgaard Data, introduced their XAL (extended application language).

Market expansion moves beyond Scandinavia into Germany. Spain and the United Kingdom. Here the name Navision was used for the first time. IBM continues to be the distributor in what is still the biggest market, in Denmark.

Lacking control of their own product marketing could easily be seen by the many names used internationally. When Navision initially was sold in the United States, it was branded as Avista Financials. Denmark, Iceland and other countries (which??) also sold it under a different brand.

The expansion continues up through the 1990'ies. Primary using local independent distributors, then co-ownership and later full control, in all major markets.

The first war of the graphical user interfaces

In the early 1990'ies Microsoft Windows and were in a battle with IBM's OS/2. With Navision's close connection at that time with IBM, and OS/2 true superiority, then almost everybody was expecting a graphical version of Navision running OS/2. But OS/2 was at least 2-3 years to early for the market. Windows won the first war of the graphical user interfaces.

In 1993 Navision initiates a major development effort to create a new generation of Navision solutions based on Microsoft Windows 32-bit client/server platform.

1995 - Navision Financials - first Windows version

Navision Financials 1.0 is released in spring 1995. It was the first Navision release running as a true Microsoft Windows application. Navision Financials was also the one of the first applications to be certified for running Windows 95. It was not just a DOS program ported to run on Windows, like it's Danish competitor Damgard Concorde XAL (the mother of Dynamics AX), they had written a completely new application. 

In October 1995 the Navision Online User Group is started by Erik P. Ernst. It was the first Navision community on the internet. And more or less the only website about Navision. At this time didn't link to Navision Software, but to a small website of a company in San Fransisco called The Navigators. But they didn't have any relation with our Navigator or Navision. The global website was for many years using as their domain name. 

The user group NOLUG was also unique due to being the only place online, where Navision professionals and users could "meet" and discuss problems and ideas with the system. Until then there had only Navision's partners only online support bulletin board systems (BBS), accessible only via modem, and only for users in your own country.

From simple accounting to true erp system

Already when Navision 3.0 (for DOS) was released in 1990 a lot of partners had developed their own add-ons. Specialized solutions for special industries. And in order for their partners to be able to sell to more advanced customers, they had to build the solutions themselves. So partners had to build fixed assets, advanced warehousing, manufacturing, CRM and bank integration. And they did. Many of the best of these add-ons have later become standard functionality in Navision. Something which often was very visible, when looking the objects. As they did often follow and use very different development patterns, at term not really discussed until the NAV community started writing about it in 2011-12.

As the first of the new functional areas Contact Management / CRM functionality was introduced in 1987 with Navision Financials 2.0.

In 1998 and Navision 2.50 Navision Manufacturing] followed and in 1999 [[Navision Advanced Distribution. In the first years, manufacturing and distribution was not integrated into the standard packages, but was sold as separate versions of NAV.

Navision 3.56 in 1998 became the last update to the character based version.

2000 to 2001 - in the internet bobble

In 2000 the internet bobble had not yet blast. The news and media all talked internet, 24-7-365 and companies wanted their companies to be online.

The Navision/Damgaard Merger

The two big international erp vendors both from Denmark Navision Software a/s and Damgaard A/S (the developers of Concorde, C4, C5, XAL and Axapta) merge under the name NavisionDamgaard A/S.

When the two former competitors announces their merger, this was a big surprise to most. Primary among the partners on the Damgaard side, who had been used to Damgaard referring to Navision as "the enemy".

Navision continues to release new versions, where they again and again prove their commitment towards Microsoft and their product portfolio. In 2000 Navision Financials receives the Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Certification and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Certification. The same year they launch of Navision Commerce Gateway based on Microsofts BizTalk Server and Navision User Portal using Microsofts Digital Dashboard (something everyone today in 2015 has forgotten all about!).

In 2001 NavisionDamgaard A/S again changes their name. Nobody can use such a long name. The name is now only Navision A/S. This also includes a rebranding of the product names. Navision Financials becomes Navision Attain. Axapta becomes Navision Axapta, XAL Navision XAL. Something which even today makes a lot of users think that they uses Navision, when they are actually using Axapta, XAL or C5.

2002 to 2004 - Microsoft Business Solutions Navision

It was not a big surprise when Most people had seen it coming. Microsoft paid about 2 billion USD (2002) for Navision and Axapta, including what became the biggest Microsoft Development Center outside of the US.

In 2000 Microsoft had a acquired Great Plains, Navision's biggest competitor on the US market, but the rumors said that Microsoft had realized that GP was not good enough to base their whole strategy upon. Navision and Great Plains was put together in a group at Microsoft called Microsoft Business Solutions and the names changed accordingly to Microsoft Business Solutions Navision.

The domain name of this website also changed from to

Project Green

Microsoft first starts talking about Project Green in 1993. This was an initiative to merge the platforms of Navision, Axapta, Great Plains and Solomon into one system. Microsoft first told that the beta would be available in Q4 2004. But was a much bigger project than anticipated by Microsoft, who at this time still was learning ERP industry to know. In 2007 Microsoft completely stopped talking about Project Green. They had also realized that it also scared of a lot of potential customers, who would not invest in one of the existing solutions, when they were soon to be replaced.

2005 to 2007 the last classic versions

Microsoft Business Solutions Navision 4.0 was released in 2005. NAV 4.0 SP1 follows later the same year including Navision Employee Portal as a replacement for the Navision User Portal.

Same year Microsoft announces Navision version 5.0 as the version with a completely new user interface to be released in late 2006.

Microsoft Business Solutions becomes Dynamics

Microsoft again changes the brand name in 2005. This time from Microsoft Business Solutions to Microsoft Dynamics. At the same time the name Navision is changes to NAV (not nav but n.a.v. - with all letters pronounced).

No new UI yet

In 2006 an delayed Microsoft announces that the new user interface will not be part of Navision 5.0, but instead it will be released 6-12 months later as Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.1.

So when version 5.0 was released in 2007 it was without the new client, but it did have many new application features such as a completely redesigned Job module. The job module had basically not changed since the release of Navision 3.01 (the character based version in 1990).

Again in 2008 Microsoft announces delays. Navision 5.0 SP1 is released without the new client. The new version including the new client will be called Dynamics NAV 6.0, but released in 2008. Just a few months later they announced that it would be called Dynamics NAV 2009 and be released in Q4 2008.

2008 - the role tailored client

At Microsoft Convergence in Copenhagen in November 2008 Dynamics NAV 2009 was finally released after years of waiting.The new client is released as the RoleTailored Client and from on the old Windows client was called the Classic client. Also introduced with Dynamics NAV 2009 was the new form object called Pages and the new RoleTailored reports that you had to design using the RDLC in the Visual Studio Report Designer.

Besides a new web client that could be run on almost every browser available, then NAV 2009 contained the Sharepoint Framework, allowing you to run NAV within Sharepoint.

The new web client, released with NAV 2009.

Dynamics NAV 2009 SP1/Service Pack 1 was released on September 1st., 2009 and Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 was released on December 15th. 2010. 2009 R2  included many changes, also some which had not been planed until version 7.0. The long awaited integration between Dynamics CRM and Dynamics NAV and support for Microsoft's application virtualization V-app.

The native database could still be used with Dynamics NAV 2009 in a "classic" only setup. But Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 was the last version, where the native database and the classic client could be used.  And the same with forms and classic reports.

2011-13 - growth in the application

The huge delays in the release of Dynamics NAV 2009 was a result of Microsoft's "restructuring" of they development teams. For a number of years it was like Microsoft had almost eliminated most of the core NAV team in Copenhagen. It was very clear to both partners and users, that Axapta was the product Microsoft had their focus on now. Only a hand full of old NAV team was left.

But then in 2010 it was like Microsoft again put NAV in focus.

(The role center of NAV 2013)

Dynamics NAV 2013 was released on September 28th, 2012. The name of the role-tailored client, is changed to the Windows Client. The classic client is no longer available, but FINSQL.EXE still used as the "Development Environment".

RapidStart is the old rapid-imlementation tool, but now changed so much, that it actually became a very good tool for use in data migrations. It is no longer need to write special dataports or xmlports to import data.

The release also contained many new application and development improvements. And in many ways, then NAV 2013 was what most partners had expected NAV 2009 to have been.

2013 to 2015 - the "modern" versions

One of the most successful products in Microsoft is Dynamics C5. This little hybrid of an old Danish SMB accounting system, once called Concorde (which grew into XAL and later Axapta), has been the most selling accounting system in Denmark, with more than 50% of their market. For many years Microsoft had tried to copy it's success (Navision Entrepreneur) and find out what to do about C5. 

Navision was the obvious choice. But if NAV should be a possible choice, then it needed more standard functionality. They had to match both what is in C5 and what their competitors offer in the same price range. Just lowering the price would not help, if the customers still had to buy expensive third party add-ons to get bank integration, pdf import/export etc. These add-on modules alone would cost up to 10 times more than the base license for C5.

So more standard functionality had to be build. NAV also needed to become easier to administrate, if partners should be able to handle 1000's of customers. Not to mention the well known issue of upgrading customized solutions. How to handle upgrading 1000's of customer at once?

Support for PowerShell was now also part of NAV 2013. Already with NAV 2009 it had been possible to manage NAV services in NAV 2009, but now it was also for use in other areas. With NAV 2013 "Microsoft Dynamics NAV Windows PowerShell Cmdlets" was introduced.

More PowerShell and functionality in NAV 2013 R2

On October 31st. 2013 Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 was released. The release was also a goodbye to the Development Environment (aka the classic client) as the place to handle companies and backups. From now on backups and restore was to be handled in SQL, and companies from within the Windows client. The reason was that NAV now supported multi-tenency, which allows partners (and users) to setup environments where the application (objects etc.) is separate from the data. This way each customer can have it's own database (with multiple companies), but still share the actual application with many other customers.

The first release was not the best work from Microsoft. In the beginning there where no way to copy/import-export companies, inside NAV. Except from using PowerShell, which was introduced with NAV 2013. This came to a complete surprise and resulted in a lot of complaints especially from the partners and developers. But they worked fast, and had many online "firefighting" meetings with the NAV MVP's.

The R2 release also contained an entirely new Cash Management functionality, largely improved Bank Reconciliation and standard functions to handle import of bank transactions, including SEPA support for debits and credits payments.

The initial released included the default setup to most Danish banks, so that it could be part of Dynamics C5 2014. Inside a C5 2014 is just standard NAV 2013 R2, but using different role centers turns it into a much simpler setup and UI, leaving about most of the advanced functions. But at a very low monthly price - only available as a "rentable" SPLA license.

The Small Business role center to be used by C5 - SMB/small to midsize business. No orders, only invoicing.

The product team continues to listen to the the community of both partners and customers, who for years have had one major problem with Navision. The same thing that made Navision a success, the ability to customize almost every little part of the system, also makes upgrades a very time consuming. And despite good 3rd party tools like MergeTool, then there is really no tools assisting in code upgrades. The result is that many customers never upgrades, beyond the main version they are on.

In October 2014 Dynamics NAV 2015 was released. Besides the many application improvements, then upgrades was in focus in this release. It contained new data upgrade codeunits and a new set of PowerShell applets enabling partners to automate the whole upgrade process. Including code compare and merge. There is no longer a way around learning to use PowerShell.

Dynamics NAV 2016 - a big release

On October 5th. 2015 Dynamics NAV 2016 was released. The release had a lot of new functionality, but for the geeks and the end-users. The release introduced a new code-editor, replacing the old, which more or less was unchanged since the first Windows version of NAV was release. The new editor introduced IntelliSense similar to what was known in most other development environment, such as Visual Studio.

Waldo's blog contains a great description of most of the changes:


What comes next? Dynamics NAV "Madeira"

The next version of Dynamics NAV is codenamed "Madeira", where NAV 2016 had "Corfu" as it's codename.

The next

Recent Comments

By: Abhilash Posted on 2010-7-12 8:32

Good , Useful article

By: dtruppi Posted on 2010-9-27 16:44

Very good story!

Will Microsoft mantain NAV until 2018 in the roadmap?

By: vimal Posted on 2010-9-28 11:28

well knitted and very useful article on NAV, thanks Dear!

By: Padma Posted on 2011-3-16 9:54

Very Good Nice...It is very useful to me...thanks..

By: KIRIT PATEL Posted on 2013-3-25 10:51

Nice article...