The Development of Business Central

Business Central’s evolution from spotty teenager to red carpet supermodel has been a journey filled with an eclectic mixture of different influences. So, what is the story of the development of Business Central? Back in 1984, Personal Computing & Consulting formed. A year later they created PCPlus, their first accounting system. Shortly after, in 1987, Navision, a familiar name to many of you, was created. This was the company’s first creation that would allow for multiple users to be on the system at any given time. The system, still in its infancy, was still only a national product and was in partnership with IBM Denmark. It was only in 1990 that the product started to go overseas. Following the release of version 3 of the product, they branched out to Iceland, Germany, the UK and the USA over the next six year period.

Microsoft’s acquisitions

Fast-forward to 2000, Navision merged with Damgaard, forming what was briefly called ‘NavisionDamgard A/S’, before rebranding to simply ‘Navision A/S’. Axapta was a business solution product of Daamgard and like with Navision, had a strong boost following the merging of the two companies. A couple of years later, Microsoft entered the fray buying Navision A/S. This was ground-breaking at the time. A transaction of over $1.4b dollars was the largest Microsoft had made at that point in time.

Microsoft had also recently purchased Great Plains, another multi-modular ERP system based solely in the US. Great Plains still exists in older versions today but due to the increasing movement towards cloud-based solutions, it has been superseded by the development of Business Central. To this day, these three, alongside ‘Solomon Software’, previously known as ‘TLB’ or ‘The Lord’s Business’ are still Microsoft ERP systems. Solomon Software did come alongside Great Plains as GP bought the company prior to Microsoft obtaining all of them!

They have however undergone some rebranding. We’ll touch on Navision’s journey more specifically below, but Axapta, Great Plains and Solomon Solutions are now called Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics SL respectively. These were all placed under the umbrella of Microsoft Business Solutions’ but essentially brought to the table, various means of helping customers achieve the same goal.

It was at this time that word of ‘Project Green’ came about. Talk that it could be a replacement for all of these. But that turned out not to be the case. It was released that this was about slowly connecting the code base for all of these products, something which only came to fruition in 2013.

So, what of Navision?

In 2005, Navision was rebranded again, coming Microsoft NAV, which had its first full release in 2007. The years that proceeded came with new releases of the product and in 2013, NAV got it’s own web client. The integration, especially with other Microsoft products throughout this period grew dramatically too.

In 2017, it was announced that another rebranding would occur; this time changing ‘NAV’ to ‘Business Central’. A year later, Business Central would be available both on-premise but most notably, on the cloud. This is a huge leap from before in what seemed an inevitable next step. Business Central currently is updated bi-annually, with lots of quality of life fixes, often suggested by you, the user!

I took inspiration from a very well documented account of the evolution of Business Central, so I’d recommend giving that a read.

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