• Kwixand Team

Dynamics NAV vs. Dynamics 365 Business Central: What You Should Know

What's the difference between Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central?


If you are wondering what the difference is between Dynamics NAV and Business Central, in some ways, the answer is simple. Essentially an upgrade, Dynamics 365 Business Central is a new and improved, cloud-based version of Dynamics NAV and has some significant improvements over its predecessor. Here's what you need to know.


Dynamics NAV evolved into Dynamics 365 Business Central


Dynamics NAV or Navision was a popular on-premises ERP solution designed for small and mid-sized organizations. It was re-written for the cloud and in 2018, the modern, cloud-based solution known as Dynamics 365 Business Central was launched. Most of the base code of Business Central has been adapted from NAV, and it has enhanced the rich functionality its predecessor offered, with options to deploy as an on-premises or a SaaS cloud solution.

Dynamics NAV vs. Business Central: What are the main changes?


Hosted in the cloud

Business Central can be run as a SaaS cloud ERP solution hosted in Microsoft Azure. Built for the cloud, you'll see numerous benefits in your business, including agility, ability to scale quickly, mobility, lower cost of ownership, and more. You can also choose to deploy Business Central as an on-premises solution if that is a better fit for your organization. However, you may then miss out on integration and cutting-edge features.


Licensing options


Business Central cloud is priced on a subscription basis, where you can either pay monthly or annually. However, you also get an option to pay a perpetual license fee. That means you can now Business Central as an operational expense or a capital expense, whichever makes more sense for your business. It also moves from a concurrent user to a named user licensing model.


New AL coding


NAV customization was written in C/AL language and was integral to the core system. This meant upgrades were a major undertaking as the whole system needed to be reviewed and potentially redeveloped. With Business Central, the modifications are made using AL language that creates extensions – leaving the core system untouched and making upgrades a lot easier.

Dynamics NAV vs. Business Central: What stayed the same?


The rich functionality offered by NAV remains the same in its new iteration. Business Central is designed on the same core functionalities as Dynamics NAV and also offers two plans to select from – Essentials and Premium.

Dynamics NAV vs. Business Central: What are some key improvements?


Modern interface


Business Central has an updated modern user interface that offers a web-optimized experience. It is designed to be more intuitive and user-friendly. Some improvements include a more intuitive search feature, updated command bars, improved dashboards, and a seamless experience across all your devices.


Improved integrations


Thanks to the new AL language, it's simple to integrate apps and extensions to Business Central cloud. There are numerous apps available on Microsoft AppSource that help you extend the capability of your solution. It also offers better integration with Microsoft 365, other Dynamics 365 solutions such as Dynamics CRM, as well as the Power Platform.


Easier Updates


Expensive, time-consuming, and risky upgrades are a thing of the past. With Business Central cloud, upgrades occur every six months and occur automatically, and the cost is already included in your subscription. With the on-premises or private cloud version of Business Central, upgrades are not automatic but are still relatively simpler compared to NAV. Plus, any third-party apps or customizations you have are also designed to be compatible with each new Business Central update.

Dynamics NAV vs. Business Central: What is the cost?


Dynamics NAV was licensed on a perpetual license model, where you pay an upfront fee, and had two starter packs for its on-premises deployment. Dynamics 365 Business Central follows a SaaS pricing model, with a monthly or annual fee for their cloud-based solution. You choose between their Essentials plan, which comes up to $70 USD or 89.60 CAD per user per month, and their Premium plan, which is priced at $100 USD or 128 CAD per user per month.


Then you also can add on team members from $8 USD or 10.20 CAD per user per month. It's important to note that these licenses revolve around named users - the specific employees who will be using your solution and are not interchangeable among your employees.

Dynamics NAV vs. Business Central: When should you upgrade?

If you're debating whether to upgrade or not, have a look at our blog post "Should You Upgrade from NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central?" which covers this conundrum extensively.


What you should keep in mind is that as of December 2018, Microsoft stopped offering

Dynamics NAV as an option for new customers. For existing clients who are operating with Dynamics NAV, you will eventually lose mainstream support for most versions by 2023 and enter extended support. If you're running versions before NAV 2009, your extended support has already ended.


(For those who may not be clear on the types of support, mainstream support is when your solution receives new features, security updates, and bug fixes. Extended support is where your software will only receive security updates.)


While upgrading can seem like a daunting task, with all the time and resources it requires, using outdated versions of ERP software is also risky. When your solution reaches end-of-support, (when there are no updates of any kind) it may become more difficult to resolve issues that arise, particularly when it comes to security.


If you decide your organization is ready to upgrade to Business Central, you might be eligible for a 40% license discount on Business Central. To qualify, you need to be using Dynamics NAV on-premises and have a current Enhancement Plan. You'll also get a discount on user licenses – for every one concurrent user; you'll be able to get three named users at a discounted price. Learn more about the offer here.