What You Should Know Before Upgrading from NAV to Dynamics 365



Many professionals can attest that Dynamics NAV has been a pioneer for business software since 2002 when Microsoft acquired it from PC&C A/S. While NAV continues to stand as a fully comprehensive and capable platform, there is no denying that Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC) is the future of Microsoft’s management solutions for small to mid-sized businesses.

As an important sidenote, we must add that we love Dynamics NAV. If you are currently using it, we have no doubt that it serves you well. This article is not to diminish the excellence of NAV, but rather to get you thinking about the future of your business software. In this article we explain why it makes sense to start considering upgrading to Business Central.

What’s the Difference Between NAV and Business Central

Many people ask, “What’s the difference between Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 BC?” It’s a good question and it’s not necessarily that they are different. It is more so that Microsoft rebranded NAV into Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Premise, so Dynamics 365 BC is technically, the next version of NAV 2018 and the last edition of Dynamics NAV was verion 2018.

In relation to NAV, we like to think of Dynamics 365 BC as an evolution. Both NAV and BC (cloud and on-premise) carry the same core functionalities, the big “difference” is the platform itself. 

When NAV was first developed, it was designed for on-premise deployment only, because at the time, “the cloud” still meant atmospheric water vapor.

Dynamics 365 BC continues to allow businesses to operate completely on-premise, but Microsoft is taking strides with Business Central online by creating a fully serverless hosted experience. One where businesses can run their operations as a SaaS model, purely cloud. In addition, Dynamics 365 BC has allowed for hybrid deployment options as well, clearly something that NAV is unable to do either. 

NAV 2018 to Business Central Licensing Options

Microsoft made pretty significant changes in the way they license Dynamics 365 BC. If you’re an existing NAV customer, you will still be able to purchase additional licenses for your NAV solution, but it should go without saying that you will not get the updates and features found in Dynamics 365 BC.

User Licenses

Unlike Dynamics NAV, all Dynamics 365 products do NOT offer concurrent user licenses. Rather, each license in Dynamics 365 has a named user, and there are three types – Full Users (Essentials, Premium) and Team Member.

Essentials provides:

  • Financial management
  • Supply chain and inventory management
  • Sales and opportunity management (basic CRM)
  • Project management

Premium adds key functionality for manufacturing and service order management:

  • Service management
  • Manufacturing management

Team Member license is a named CAL designed for users who do not need full access to essential functions the way an operational user would. Team Member licenses require basic Dynamics 365 Business Central access for view only or limited tasks.

The current Dynamics NAV licence and functionality you run will determine what type of user licence you will get. For each concurrent NAV user, Dynamics 365 BC will offer two Business Central named users (this conversion rate is eligible only for existing NAV customers who first had purchased a NAV license before October 2018. 

One to one conversion rate will be applied for NAV customers after September 2018. Please confirm the rate with Microsoft though your existing partner. Calsoft will be able to help you if necessary if you are no longer in contact with your partner. 

New Subscription Model 

Like NAV, Dynamics 365 BC offers both perpetual and subscription licenses, but because Dynamics 365 BC has named user licenses for the subscription model, monthly costs are predicated on the number of users you have.

For perpetual licensing, these will be a one time cost. However, there is an additional annual payment of 16 to 25% of the total license cost for the yearly enhancement, as seen before with its predecessor Dynamics NAV.

Hybrid Option

For Businesses who host with the hybrid On-Premise and cloud deployment option, you will have to pay for the software in addition to the cloud hosting service. While it may seem a bit frustrating to pay for both, Microsoft offers a discount to users who choose to host with Azure cloud servers. 

To emphasize the cloud model once more, Microsoft includes everything in one fee: software, cloud hosting and management services. Definitely something to think about.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Easy Upgrades

One of the best new features of Dynamics 365 BC is how easy the upgrades are. These upgrades occur on a bi-annual cadence and when I say easy upgrades, I mean it.

Your third-party customizations and add-ons will no longer interfere with the upgrade process. This is because Dynamics 365 BC has introduced what is called Events and Extensions using AL code. The new code differentiates customizations with base application logic, essentially turning your modifications into extensions. (Disclaimer: Some adjustment or code update may be needed per testing in some cases.)

Traditionally, upgrades for Dynamics NAV could take months at a time depending on the complexity of your environment. Dynamics 365 Business Central was built with logic that is separate from any bespoke code you may have. Thus, no hassle when it’s time to update.

As for Dynamics NAV, Microsoft continues to support some of the existing versions. However, they will no longer release upgrades for those solutions. In the short term, this may not pose a threat, but down the line it is likely that you will run into some setbacks. 

Dynamics 365 is So Simple

Not to discredit Dynamics NAV because like I’ve said, it shares many of the same functionalities as Dynamics 365 Business Central — let’s just say certain things have gotten simpler in Dynamics 365 BC. From streamlined screens and action bars to full access of the latest Microsoft extensions, Dynamics NAV users will immediately feel the difference in Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Web Client, formerly known as Windows Client comes to life with a whole new bag of features. Some of our favorites are: 

  • Cross-column searching
  • Smart keyboard shortcuts
  • Multiple row selection
  • Easy copy and paste
  • Simple drag and drop
  • Brick and tile views
  • Intuitive filters
  • Custom personalization
  • Informative headlines
  • Enhanced Excel importing and exporting

We think Windows Client is great, but Web Client is just better. Later this year (2020), Windows Client is going to be phased out, so we think it’s important to get used to how things work in Dynamics 365 Business Central. 

App Integrations

Many Dynamics NAV users are familiar with the vast availability of integrations Microsoft offers. Furthermore, Dynamics NAV users often utilize such integrations. In Dynamics 365 Business Central it’s similar, except Dynamics 365 BC integrations are tighter, easier to integrate and more streamlined. The new platform eliminates traditional solos that may have hindered efficiency in the past.

Applications like Office 365 (includes Outlook, Excel/Word, Teams, OneNote, Sharepoint), Dynamics 365 for Sales, Yammer, Power BI and Power App have all been designed for the Dynamics 365 BC platform and work seamlessly with other Microsoft applications.

If you are using app integrations in your Dynamics NAV environment, you are going to love the increase in efficiency and more advanced connectivity found in Dynamics 365 Business Central.


We believe that a software platform is defined in how it’s code is written. We love Dynamics NAV and we love the code NAV was written with. When it comes to Dynamics 365 Business Central, the code is very similar, but in many instances it is deeper and more sophisticated. It offers things Dynamics NAV cannot and it’s built on a foundation that modern small to mid-sized businesses can trust. 

To get you to start thinking of your future business software. Dynamics 365 Business Central is undoubtedly the future, and definitely something to be thinking about as you move forward. 

We always say, “having a plan will always be better than having to react.” Maybe an upgrade is in the cards for your business, and if you need a partner that will help you take your business to the next level, well that’s where Calsoft comes in. 

Every Organization is Different

We have been working with ERPs, integrations, customizations and everything business software since the 90s, we know every business is unique and has specific needs. Finding out what those needs are and how to address them is how we have managed to keep a 95%+ customer retention rate. We are a certified Microsoft Gold Partner that works to deliver solutions that make your business better. Please get in contact with us if you are considering an upgrade, a new or re-implementation, or if you just want a business consultation. 

Calsoft Systems has touted experience with Dynamics NAV and upgrades to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Please feel free to call us at 1-888-838-8422 or email at info@calsoft.com anytime. We can share any information of practical steps and tools of Dynamics NAV upgrade with you.