Business Central & Nintendo

WARNING!! Personal opinion here!

Inspiration to write down idea’s are everywhere. Next week my youngest son has his birthday and we went out this evening with the train to the big city of Deventer to buy him (us) a Nintendo Switch.

I’ve been loyal to Nintendo since the 1980ies and bought many of their consoles. I’m also loyal to Mario and have most of the games.

When the Nintendo WII came out there was the option of buying NES games for 5 dollar and I bought Mario I and III. Again, because I already purchased them 20 or so years earlier.

Now what does this have to do with Business Central? It made me reflect to a talk I had a few hours earlier while driving back home in the car with some former collegueas. They wanted to pick my brains about upgrading customers from old Navision to Business Central. In this case one was on 3.70 and the other on 2009 classic.

With Navision upgrading was easy. It required common sense and discipline. Two qualities every Navision developer should have. Back in the days I did many upgrades fixed price for less than 5k.

60% of all Navision installations are on classic, or that is what my former collegues told me. The hold of upgrading because of the gap with RTC and something called a financial crisis that forces many people from sitting on their (flat) wallet for half a decade or more.

They wanted to know how to analyse if the customizations can be ported to Business Central. The idea was to install Business Central On Prem and keep running on the same version again for a decade or more.

I told them that this was a horrible idea and it should not be advised to customers. Nobody should want to run Business Central On Prem with a support window of only 6 monhts.

That’s right. Business Central only get’s cumulative updates for 6 months. After that you are on your own and if you want to do stuff like backporting a fix from a higher version it means making your own base app.

That’s horrible.

Business Central on AL Only has just officially become a cloud only solution because no SMB is qualified to install and maintain it on premises and upgrade every 6 months.

Because the Extension model in Business Central with AL is based on taking a dependency on metadata from Microsoft it’s very fragile for changes done my Microsoft.

A lot of things that are technically possible should be avoided with per-tenant extensions because you will be forced to refactor your changes every 6 months. Very, very expensive.

Business Central is a high volume product that should be perrsonalised with apps from AppSource. An AppSource app is only interesting from an economics perspective with one hundred paying customers or more as it requires a dedicated team focussing on high quality, automated testing and an intuitive user interface.

The partners who do not accept this and keep modifying Business Central with complex per-tenant extensions are a danger for our ecosystem.

If you require a complex module for your company, use a different platform like power platform or other Microsoft options. As long as you stick to Azure, MSFT does not care.

The days of easy upgrades with Navision are over. Welcome to the days of Nintendo where we have to constantly buy new consoles to use the new toys.


  1. Matthew Butlin says:

    Interesting post. So we are a long term customer of nav and were about to undertake a move to on prem BC which we have running now (not production yet) but for other technical reasons (such as Azure AD integration etc) can see that model is not sustainable. We are having to add extensions to effectively extend the APIs as they dont cover all the fields available in the tables and are doing most of our development outside BC and then just firing in through the APIs. I hadnt thought through the implication of the metadata dependency but cant see we will have much of a choice but to maintain a suite of per tenant extensions (I also hope as we are going to have multiple production environments to support our multiple region company that doesnt add to the issues).


  2. Your comparsion with Nintendo is not so bad, but i have other thoughts in this case.
    When you bought the Mario games agin were there missing functionalities was Mario unable to jump (print) or was he driving like a snail?
    I do not think so. Mario had the same functions with the same keys but only faster with better graphics and hopefully additional levels. So the parents were able to show their kids the games they played when they were young (And they also had the chance to beat their kids in the first rounds 😉
    That’s the important difference here. Microsoft hit partners and customers with a baseball bat (quote from the directions) RTC that was slow in the first versions, completely new to the users, and also missing functionalities many customers required. And the upgrade was expensive, especialy for reporting.
    I think that is one important case why many customers are not upgrading to RTC. They do not need, and i think in most cases they do not want, a new design every year (i would sougest the new symbol for BC2019 Wave2 would be the cause for many support calls).
    The customers need a specific funtionality to solve their bussiness and as long this is possible there is no requirement for an update with its new problems and failures, or the requirement for trainings for the users.
    If Microsoft did smaller steps with smaller deltas, and very important without removing functionality and performnace, i think there would be much more updates to RTC or BC.
    So i would promise Microsoft will loose 60% of the customers that are currently on RTC for further updates, because MS is unable to provide required funtionality (f.e. direct printing).

    And then we are at another point of you statement, that i think is very true: You need to have hundred installations of an app to be profitable. But if there is no one using BC, there is no potential customer who uses your app.


  3. David Curd says:

    Not sure “That’s right. Business Central only get’s cumulative updates for 6 months.” is correct. I thought 6 months was feature updates and support fixes were avaialable 18 months (!). If it’s 6 months for support fixes, that is crazy!


  4. Lars Westman says:

    The support window is 18 months. If the base app isn’t touched you “only” have to make sure that the customer specific app is up to date and then upgrade the base app. Other installed apps should be apps that’s also available on appsource and then they will be forced to support new versions.

    It’s for sure a new landscape, but I don’t think 18 months between upgrades is a bad practice. And the customer can decide to stay on the installed version. After 18 months I really hpoe the customer has a system that does all it should do (and correctly).


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