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It's not the first time Microsoft has used DreamForce to try and woo away Salesforce customers. Just before Dreamforce 2009, Microsoft launched a six-month free trial offer for Dynamics CRM Online for customers who switched from Salesforce or Oracle.
"They do not want us going to the cloud. They're trying to stop Chatter. They're trying to stop the Sales Cloud," Benioff said, adding that Microsoft is screaming "Stop that cloud, I tell you" in a last ditch effort to keep customers using its various software products.
And it isn't just Segways, magazine ads and rebates that Microsoft is dangling in front of Salesforce customers. The software behemoth has also tried to stop Salesforce through litigation, Benioff said.
In May, Microsoft filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Salesforce in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington charging that Salesforce's on-demand CRM application infringed on nine Microsoft patents.
Roughly a month later, Salesforce fired back with a countersuit in the U.S. District Court of Delaware charging that Microsoft products like SharePoint and the .Net platform violate Salesforce patents.
Salesforce and Microsoft settled the dueling patent infringement lawsuits in August. The settlement grants each company coverage under the other's patent portfolio for products and services.
But as a coup de grace in the cloud CRM kerfuffle with Microsoft, Benioff on Wednesday brought "Bernard" to the Dreamforce stage; Bernard is the man featured in the Microsoft "I Didn't Get Forced" ad campaign (or an impressive look-alike). Bernard, who in the ad portrays a customer that left Salesforce in favor of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, came to the stage with the same aggravated, arms crossed pose he struck in the Microsoft ads. Benioff apologized to Bernard for Salesforce letting him down. The CEO said he was sorry that Salesforce caused him to leave in favor of its cloud CRM rival.
"We don't want you to go back to software," Benioff implored of Bernard. "We were there too. We know what it's like. The constant updates and upgrades … We don't want you to go back to the evil empire."
After a short bit of prodding, Bernard lamented, saying he would stick with Salesforce for cloud CRM. The pair high-fived before Barnard left the stage.
"When you're fighting with Microsoft, you've got to do everything you can," Benioff said.