Salesforce, Microsoft forge ahead with alliance at Dreamforce

SAN FRANCISCO —’s unlikely alliance with Microsoft Corp. will eventually see more Salesforce mobile apps made available for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, according to executives.

The two software makers announced the next step in their strategic partnership here at Dreamforce,’s annual conference. It’s the first update to the union since the companies’ respective CEOs, Marc Benioff and Satya Nadella, held a conference call for media in May. At that time, Salesforce announced its intention to launch its Salesforce1 app to Windows Phone 8.1 (previously only available on iOS and Android) and more integration with Office 365.

This week Salesforce1 for Windows was released, plus Salesforce for Office, and new Power BI and Excel integrations with Salesforce. Currently the Salesforce1 for Windows app is only available via an invitation-only preview, and general availability is projected for the second half of 2015. Until then, Windows users can access Salesforce1 via Internet Explorer.

The alliance may seem surprising to some observers. Salesforce’s cloud customer relationship management (CRM) product is competitive with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Also, Salesforce’s new analytics cloud product, Wave, competes against Microsoft’s Power BI for offering visual tools to review analytics.

Just last week Microsoft offered a new bundle of cloud software – Dyamics, Office, and Power BI are rolled up in a Sales Productivity solution for small teams of up to five users, and is being sold at a promotional rate until at least the end of June 2015.

Yet Salesforce has now opened up its data to Power BI, and the Salesforce Analytics mobile app is in development for Windows Phone, according to Parker Harris, co-fouder of Salesforce, though no timeline was given for the project.

“We’re not afraid of conflict or competition. That’s also what you’ve seen from Microsoft and why they’re willing to partner with us now,” he said. “Satya [Nadella] has transformed the company to say its OK to have a bit of competition.”

For Alex Dayon, president of products at Salesforce, the move is as simple as giving users what they want. Office integration was one of the most-requested features among Salesforce customers, he said.

“We want customers to have the choice,” he says. “We view Power BI as being a very powerful dashboard environment, but it’s not really for everyone… what we want to create is analytics for every user.”

Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of Windows marketing Tony Prophet discussed the partnership on stage with Benioff on Monday. During the talk he described the move as important for Microsoft’s new effort to support open platforms.

“I won’t name names,but if you think about all the walled gardens and the proprietary stacks in the technology industry, which has survived?,” he said. “You can see it time and time again, the eco-systems that went and thrived in today’s world are open.”

For Microsoft products like Windows, Office, and Azure to be open, it needed to make partnerships, Prophet said.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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