One of the most successful products in Microsoft is Dynamics C5. At least in Denmark.
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 the SMB market. For many years Microsoft had tried to copy it's success (Microsoft Dynamics Entrepreneur in 2007) 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 as out of the box functionality. 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 could cost up to 10 times more than the base license for C5.
So more standard functionality had to be developed. NAV also needed to become easier to administrate, if partners should be able to handle 1000's of customers at once. Not to mention the well known issue of upgrading customized solutions. How to be able upgrade 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.
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 Microsoft Dynamics C5 2014.
Microsoft Dynamics C5 2014 was also released on October 31st.
It was a standard out-of-the-box Dynamics NAV 2013 R2, but using a different set role centers (the so-called "mini-app" or small business app) turned it into a much simpler setup and UI, leaving about most of the advanced functions. Build to run in the cloud on a low monthly price - so only available as a "rentable" SPLA license.
The actual C5 license was only available in Denmark, but the functionality gained applause and acknowledgement from NAV bloggers (Mark Brummel /Erik Ernst) and users, in many countries.
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 Microsoft 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.
On October 5th. 2015 Microsoft 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: