The History of Navision, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central


Three college friends from Copenhagen set out to create an accounting package to run on a personal computer.

It tracked warehouse, finance, debits and credits all in one place and despite it being a single-user solution, word spread quickly at how easy the product was to use and it was snapped up a few years later by IBM.


IBM and the Danish trio launched the first version of IBM-NAVIGATOR. Version 2 followed shortly after, providing a multi-user solution and one of the first client/server applications. IBM-NAVIGATOR rapidly became a bestseller (which after a plethora of names ultimately became Microsoft Dynamics NAV).


Market expansion moved beyond Copenhagen and into Germany, Iceland, Spain and then the UK where the name Navision was used for the first time. It soon became popular with larger clients with over 100 users.


Avista (Navision) is launched in America. As the Americans pronounced Navision as 'no-vision' the marketeers decided to rename it Avista.

Apparently not only would it appear at the beginning of a product list, but names ending in an 'a' had a more preferable sound!


Navision initiates a major development effort to create a new generation of solutions based on Microsoft Windows 32-bit client / server platform.


1995 marks Navision as the first accounting system to be independently certified as 'designed for Windows 95'. With a Microsoft look and feel, the product was even used by Microsoft to demonstrate Windows 95.

Later, 'Navision Financials' was launched as a fully integrated, customisable 32-bit multi-user accounting and business management solution. By now, Navision Financials had offices in more than 14 countries, with over 25,000 installations worldwide in 75 countries and in 15 different languages.


The launch of Navision Financials 1.0 was quickly followed by version 1.1 aka the 'stable release' with most of the initial bugs fixed and an upgrade path from DOS to Windows. It's also the year that Navision was named in the "Top 100 Software" list by Accounting Today magazine.


A year later, Navision Financials 1.2 was released, which included the ability to hyperlink data with Internet sites and to use the Internet as a backbone for data transfer and management.


Navision Financials was named in the "Top 100 Software" list for the third year running. They opened offices in Italy, South Africa and Canada, which expanded the total to more than 800 Navision Solution Centres globally and used by more than 32,000 customers worldwide. Navision Manufacturing was also released.


Navision Advanced Distribution was released.


The merger of Navision Software and their Danish rival Damgaard Software created an international market-leader with revenues of more than $1.2 billion - to the delights of those three (not so young anymore) student's bank balances!

It was also the year Navision Financials 2.6 received the Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional logo and became the world's first solution to be based on Microsoft's Digital Dashboard.


The first World Conference following the merger was attended by over 1200 partners. The guest speaker was Monty Pythons' comedian John Cleese who expressed delight at addressing two groups of people who used to hate each other, but who were now being forced to play nicely!

NavisionDamgaard A/S was changed to the more easily pronounced Navision A/S. It's growth rate was astounding as the rest of the accounting software industry had been slumping since the 'Y2K bug' period.


After much speculation, Microsoft bought Navision in a $1.3 billion deal and it became part of Microsoft's Business Solutions division. As Navision generated about 86% of its business in Europe, its headquarters in Vedbaek became its application business base for EMEA. It was the first acquisition for Microsoft since they bought Great Plains Software. The takeover sparked a bitter war of words with rivals Sage!


Microsoft announced the rebranding of Microsoft Navision to Dynamics NAV and similarly rebranded all of its ERP products.


Dynamics NAV 5.0 was released (a year late) delivering improved functionality and stability.


Dynamics 2009 was released with the long awaited new user interface Role Tailored Client, which was the first change in the look since 1995.


Dynamics NAV 2013 was a landmark release, breaking the links to the old Navision technology. After 25 years of dedicated service from the good old DOS days it had become a fully integrated web application which was soon to move into the cloud...


NAV 2013 R2 continued to deliver improved performance, new technology components and strong functional improvements.


NAV 2015 saw the introduction of a dedicated Tablet Client, Office 365 Integration and improved Upgrade Tools which made the 'merging' of existing changes to a system much easier and quicker than before!


NAV 2016 launched in October and was a huge release. It comes jam-packed with new functionality including deferrals and posting previews to name a few. It also introduced a Phone Client, Workflow, improved eCommerce and CRM integration and huge improvements to the Web and Tablet Clients. Events and extensions (very techy) were also unveiled.


NAV 2017 offered users a beautifully de-cluttered interface and true outlook integration along with a plethora of functional improvements including item attributes and an item category hierarchy.


The release of NAV 2018 and announcement that the Dynamics 365 rebrand is imminent! More Office 365 integration and new web client tailor-ability features.


It's here at last - the rebranding of Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central, with the public cloud being joined by private cloud and on-premise versions.


2019 saw the Spring and Autumn releases of Business Central, the huge focus on the latter (Business Central 15) being the end of the Windows Client and the C/AL development environment. These positive moves confirm the web client as by far the better client and AL established as the superior developing environment. Tonnes of functional improvements matched with fabulous usability features make this a major release year for our beloved product.


With two highly anticipated releases of Business Central in 2020, as has become the 'norm', we welcome Microsoft's continual dedication to customer and Partner feedback. Integration to Microsoft Dataflex Pro for use with the Power Platform, as well as general UI and usability improvements, make 2020 an exciting year for Business Central.