Microsoft and Salesforce.com announced a strategic partnership on May 29 that promises to connect Windows and Office to the popular customer relationship management (CRM) cloud ecosystem. Financial terms are being kept under wraps.
The aim is to provide a more seamless, productivity-enhancing Salesforce experience to users of Microsoft's operating system and productivity software offerings. "The simple truth is that we wanted to bring more value to our mutual customers, and be each other's customers in relevant areas," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during a conference call for press and analysts.
Customers are hungry for Microsoft-Salesforce interoperability, claimed Salesforce's outspoken CEO, Marc Benioff, during the call. "They want this partnership badly," he said. "They want to be able to work with Office 365, they want to be able to work with Excel, with Outlook, they want to work with all of Microsoft's apps, and they want to be able to work with Salesforce."
To that end, the companies are working on a Salesforce1 app for Windows and Windows Phone. "We're bringing the leading CRM application to Windows devices, both phones and PCs," announced Nadella. Currently, the sales and marketing app is available on Apple iOS and Google Android devices.
"Our new native Salesforce1 app for Windows Phones is going to give our users the power to run their businesses from their Windows Phones, and we see that in the market today," said Benioff. Preview versions of the apps for Windows and Windows Phone are planned for the fall of 2014, with a final release in 2015.
In addition, users of Microsoft's mobile-friendly, cloud-enabled Office 365 productivity suite will be able to tap directly into Salesforce data. Nadella said the companies plan to "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."
Microsoft's OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online cloud storage services will appear as a Salesforce storage option. A Salesforce App for Outlook is also in the works.
Salesforce also announced that it plans to continue using Microsoft's SQL Server as ExactTarget's database foundation. Benioff added that the company is increasing its "investment and resources on SQL Server."
Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, a cloud marketing company, in June 2013 for $2.5 billion. Microsoft will continue to use the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud for the company's "one-to-one digital marketing efforts," said Nadella.
For Microsoft, the partnership is an opportunity to snag a high-profile customer for its own Azure cloud. Salesforce, revealed Benioff, "will also use Microsoft Azure for ExactTarget development and testing, and also researching other areas where we can use Azure through our company."
Ultimately the "partnership is about helping customers extract more value from our technologies" in an increasingly mobile-driven world, said Nadella. "It gives them access to the services they need to be productive, to collaborate, market and sell, wherever they work."