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Microsoft and Salesforce Strike Partnership To Bring CRM to Windows

Yesterday Microsoft and Salesforce.com announced that they will be working together to integrate their core products with one another.

In a press call on Thursday afternoon with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said the deal is "about extending the power of Salesforce, the world's No. 1 CRM platform, with Microsoft, the world's most widely used productivity solutions."

Nadella added, "This partnership is about helping customers extract more value from our technology. It gives them access to the services they need to be productive -- to collaborate, market and sell wherever they work."

Nadella described the collaboration as having three prongs. First, the deal will bring integration between Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.com's customer relationship management (CRM) offering. The deal will "empower people to use Office 365 and Salesforce seamlessly together, whether it's sharing Office documents in Salesforce1 or analyzing CRM data in Power BI for Office 365," Nadella said.

Microsoft's press release elaborated that users will be able to:

  • "Access, share, edit and collaborate on Office content from within Salesforce and on Salesforce1 using Office Mobile, Office for iPad and Office 365.
  • "Use OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online as integrated storage options for Salesforce.
  • "Use Salesforce and Outlook together with a new Salesforce App for Outlook
  • "Connect Salesforce data to Excel and Power BI for Office 365 to visualize information and find new insights."

Anyone with a business subscription to Office 365 will be able to take advantage of this integration, Nadella said during the Q&A section.

Second, the partnership will enable Salesforce.com's CRM platform to run on Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows devices via the Salesforce1 mobile app. A preview version of the app will be released this fall, with general availability expected sometime in 2015, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Third, Nadella said the deal signifies a "renewal" of Microsoft's commitment to use Salesforce.com's ExactTarget digital marketing platform. To that end, Benioff added that ExactTarget will continue to run on Microsoft' SQL Server database, and that Salesforce.com will use Microsoft Azure for ExactTarget development and testing.

Benioff added that ExactTarget is "embedded" in Office 365. "[ExactTarget's] Journey Builder capabilities provide users the opportunity to move through Office 365 workflow," he noted. "And we've been so excited to work with Microsoft in embedding ExactTarget into Office 365. To see them using more ExactTarget within Microsoft is exciting. And that encourages us to use more SQL Server."

Benioff emphasized that Thursday's deal does not involve certifying Salesforce.com apps on Microsoft's cloud, quelling rumors that surfaced earlier that day.

"This is not about making Salesforce apps available on Azure, though Salesforce is going to start using Azure as part of its development environment and how we build software," Benioff said. "This announcement is about taking Microsoft's core strategy, Office 365 and Windows, and integrating it with Salesforce's core strategy, our CRM apps, and making a combined offering that offers more value to our users."

In response to a question about what the partnership will mean for Microsoft's own Dynamics CRM offering, Nadella said only that "there will be some areas that we will compete in, but at the same time I think as anyone who's got a broad partnership and a platform approach, you will expect us to do exactly what our customers demand of us."

Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, reiterated in a blog post Thursday that Salesforce.com and Dynamics CRM will continue to be competitors despite the partnership.

"Does this mean we will stop competing? No. We will continue to partner and we will continue to compete in critical areas like CRM. Amazing things are happening in the CRM space and it is through competition that great innovation comes," Tatarinov wrote, adding, "Microsoft Dynamics CRM is one of the fastest growing products at Microsoft and shows no signs of slowing down as we continue to innovate and make progress."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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