Jan 13, 2006

Microsoft Dynamics GP will now use .MSP files for service packs and hotfixes

Since Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 (formerly Great Plains) will now use a standard Windows MSI installer mechanism, the updates will now be delivered via .MSP files. This includes service packs, hotfixes, and tax updates.

The FAQ's below are from this Microsoft article.

1. What is an .MSP file?
An .MSP file is a Windows Installer patch file that includes updates to an application that was installed with Windows Installer.

2. Why is Microsoft Dynamics GP now using .MSP files?
An .MSP file must be used to patch any application installed with Windows Installer. Microsoft Dynamics GP now uses Windows Installer and must be patched with an .MSP file.

3. Are all .MSP files inclusive?
Yes, all .MSP files released will include all hot fixes, service packs, tax update and payroll year end updated that were released prior.

4. What is the difference between installing an .MSP file and installing a Release 8.0 service pack?
The Release 8.0 installation used Install Shield. Therefore, all service packs were an .EXE file that used Install Shield for the installation. Microsoft Dynamics GP uses Windows Installer to install the application, therefore, all service packs, hotfixes, tax updates and payroll year end updates must be installed with an .MSP file.The Release 8.0 service packs required the user to run the Perform Special Upgrade process at the SQL Server. Microsoft Dynamics GP users no longer have to run the Perform Special Upgrade process. When installing an .MSP file at the server, the users need to launch Utilities and mark each company database for an update. This process is similar to running an update from Release 8.0 to Release 9.0. This process may take several minutes per database depending on the hardware at the SQL Server. This process is similar to running an update from Release 8.0 to Release 9.0. This process may take several minutes per database depending on the hardware at the SQL Server.

5. Does the user need to have specific rights on the workstation where the .MSP file needs to be installed?
Yes. The user must be a Power User or an Administrator on the workstation where the .MSP file is installed.

6. When I install the .MSP file and look in the Microsoft Dynamics GP folder, why do I see a .CNK file for all products that are loaded when the .MSP is only supposed to patch the Great Plains product?
The patches are applied “behind the scenes” with “REINSTALLMODE” set to “omus”. The ‘o’ in ‘omus’ means “reinstall if the file is missing or is an older version” (Platform SDK). Because .CNK files “unchunk” and disappear upon launching our application; when it comes time to perform a patch those files are regarded as missing and are re-copied to the target directory.

7. Can I run the .MSP file and copy the .CNK files out of the Microsoft Dynamics GP folder and install those .CNK files at other client workstations?
No, the .CNK files cannot be copied from the Microsoft Dynamics GP folder. Windows Installer tracks the addition of all .MSP files. If only the .CNK files were copied and installed, Windows Installer would not know what products were patched. There are also more files then the .CNK files that get patched as well. Copying only the .CNK files would cause additional issues if a user ran a Repair on the Microsoft Dynamics GP installation.

8. Why is it required to launch Utilities and update the company databases after installing an .MSP file at the server?
In Release 8.0, users ran the Perform Special Upgrade process when we released changes to database objects in the service packs. Microsoft Dynamics GP users must mark each company for an update in Utilities. This will make the appropriate database object changes for each database.

9. How long will the Utilities process for updating my company databases take?
The update process may take up to several minutes (10-15) per company database. If you have a large number of company databases and would like to decrease the Utilities processing time, please refer to the Support Information below to contact Microsoft Technical Support to discuss possible time saving options.

10. Do I have to launch Utilities at each client workstation once the .MSP file is installed?
No. Once the .MSP file is installed at the server, you do not need to run Utilities at each client workstation.

11. Can I easily roll out an .MSP file to my clients?
Yes. Once the .MSP file is installed at the server, you can use the Automatic Client Updates feature to roll out the patch to all clients. Refer to Chapter 5 in the SystemAdminGuide.pdf on the Release 9.0 Volume 1 CD-ROM under Documentation.

12. If I do not install the .MSP at one client, will that cause issues?
Once the .MSP file is installed at the server, the database version has been updated for that patch. If a client workstation does not have the .MSP file installed, the version information will not match. That client will get an error that the version does not match and will not be able to login.

13. Can Third Party products use an .MSP file to install service packs?
Yes, if the Third Party Product uses Windows Installer for the installation. Third Party Products can also use the Automatic Client Updates Feature to install the .MSP files automatically. Refer to Chapter 5 in the SystemAdminGuide.pdf on the Release 9.0 Volume 1 CD-ROM under Documentation

14. Can I install the .MSP file at a client workstation first before installing the .MSP file at the server?
Yes. The .MSP file can be installed at a client workstation first, however, that client will not be able to login to any company database until the .MSP file has been installed at the server. Utilities must also be launched at the server to update all company databases.

15. Is there a list of common error messages that could appear when running Windows Installer .MSP files?
Here is a link to a Microsoft article regarding error codes that could potentially occur when installing .MSP files.

Jan 5, 2006

Bill Gates' highlights from CES 2006 keynote address

Here is the link to the Microsoft press release that covers the highlights from Bill's keynote address at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Lots of topics - Windows Vista, Xbox 360, Windows Mobile devices, Windows Media Center 2005, Windows Live services, etc.

You can also watch the entire presentation right here.

Jan 4, 2006

SQL Server 2005 and Dynamics GP (Great Plains)

From what I've gathered from Microsoft, here is the story on compatibility with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and various versions of Great Plains (now called Microsoft Dynamics GP).

Dynamics GP 9.0 - Compatible out-of-the box with SQL 2005
Great Plains 8.0 - Will be compatible with SQL 2005 with an upcoming service pack (no release date is set yet)
Great Plains 7.5 and all earlier release with NOT be compatible with SQL 2005

Also, with the release of Dynamics GP 9.0, SQL Server 7.0 is no longer supported. Just SQL 2000 and 2005.

Here is the full list of SQL versions supported with Dynamics GP 9.0.

Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition SP 4
Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition SP 4
Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Workgroup Edition SP 4
Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (64-bit) SP 4
MSDE 2000 SP 4
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition 32-bit and 64-bit
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition 32-bit and 64-bit
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (formerly called MSDE)

I'm still trying to get some answers about Dynamics GP 9.0 being "mirror aware". If it is, this would mean that its compatible with the new "database mirroring" feature in SQL 2005. This would allow you to have a standby server running SQL 2005 and then should your primary server fail, the Dynamics GP client apps would know to switch over to the mirror server without any user intervention. This would be quite handy. And not too expensive either - your mirrored server doesn't need an additional SQL 2005 license.

I'll post here when I get to the bottom of this question.