Microsoft, Offer Taste Of Software Integration Stew They're Cooking Up

Microsoft and, longtime rivals in the customer relationship management software market, provided more details Monday about how they're working to make their software run more smoothly together.

CEO Marc Benioff and Tony Prophet, Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows marketing, spoke at's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco about the progress of the landmark partnership between the vendors that was first unveiled in May. is integrating its CRM apps and platform to let customers work with Microsoft Office, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business files from their iOS and Android devices, and plans to make this functionality available to customers in the first half of 2015. is also working on an app that will allow customers to get their Salesforce data from inside Microsoft Outlook. It's compatible with Microsoft Outlook 2013, Exchange Server 2013 and Office 365 and is also slated to be available by next June.

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Benioff expressed surprise and admiration for the "dramatic" philosophical changes that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made since taking the helm in February. These include launching Microsoft Office for the iPad and revealing plans to more bring more Microsoft software to other platforms.

Prophet acknowledged that going ahead with Office to the iPad wasn't an "easy" decision given Microsoft's longstanding Windows-first policy.

Benioff also said he's surprised to see how far and Microsoft have come in their partnership in such a short period of time. Microsoft has a policy of not allowing employees to attend its annual Worldwide Partner Conference, though it's not clear if that ban is still in place.

Matt Scherocman, president of Cincinnati-based Microsoft partner Interlink Cloud Advisors, sees the partnership as something that will benefit customers of both vendors.

Salesforce and Microsoft are well aware that their own business software is more powerful when it works with each other, Scherocman said.

"Salesforce has already opened up their APIs to other ISVs, like Box. So it's logical for Salesforce to play Switzerland and fully connect into all the other solutions available, including Microsoft -- even when another area of Microsoft is competitive," Scherocman told CRN. and Microsoft are also working on an app for Windows that will let customers access Salesforce data from Windows 8.1 mobile devices. This is possible today using Internet Explorer, but the app represents deeper integration between the vendors' products.

The app, called Salesforce1 for Windows, is available now as an invitation-only preview and is expected to be available in the second half of next year, the vendors said.

Microsoft has come up with a way to make SharePoint files easier to work with using cloud software, and that functionality is now generally available.

"This means customers can use Salesforce Files to access SharePoint files from Salesforce and then open those files directly in Office365 where they can be edited and saved," a spokesperson told CRN.

Microsoft is also working to integrate its Power BI software, which provides detailed visual representations of business intelligence data, with the Salesforce platform, and the companies plan to roll that out in the first half of next year.

Microsoft and are also working to let Excel and Salesforce data flow back and forth between their respective software, making it easier for users to build reports. That's expected to be available through a app in the second half of 2015.