Microsoft: Dynamics CRM ain't chopped liver, despite Salesforce tie-up

That was the message from Kirill Tatarinov after Thursday's public display of affection between Satya Nadella and Marc Benioff

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Microsoft remains committed to trouncing Salesforce.com in the CRM market.

That was the message, albeit worded more elegantly, from Dynamics chief Kirill Tatarinov, after Satya Nadella and Marc Benioff heaped ample praise on each other and their respective companies Thursday, while announcing an eyebrow-raising partnership between Microsoft and Salesforce.

"Does this mean we will stop competing? No," Tatarinov wrote in a blog post after the Nadella-Benioff lovefest of a press conference ended.

"Amazing things are happening in the CRM space and it is through competition that great innovation comes," Tatarinov added.

Still, it's undeniable that the deal puts in a very awkward position the Dynamics CRM software that his group, the Microsoft Business Solutions Division, develops and markets, and that competes primarily against Salesforce.

The "global, strategic partnership" calls for the tight integration of Salesforce's CRM (customer relationship management) cloud software with Microsoft's Windows OS and Office 365 cloud email and productivity suite.

The main thrust behind the deal is making life easier for common customers who want those products to work better together, the two CEOs said.

Nadella didn't even mention Dynamics CRM by name. The closest he came, and only when prompted by a specific question, was to acknowledge that "there will be some areas that we will compete in."

Time and again, he stated that the most important thing was to meet customers' demands for heterogenous interoperability, and that Microsoft wouldn't shy away from doing similar co-opetition deals in the future.

"I think as being anyone who has got a broad partnership and a platform approach, you will expect us to do exactly what our customers demand of us on those respects," Nadella said.

Tatarinov echoed Nadella's pledge for partnerships and integration with third-party products for the benefit of customers, but he also stated that the future looks bright for Dynamics CRM, which he described as one of the company's fastest growing products.

"Our unique ability to deliver agile, simple to use, end-to-end solutions that take advantage of all Microsoft technologies puts us on the precipice of tremendous opportunity to impact businesses and organizations throughout the world," he said, adding that new features and capabilities will be delivered next week for Dynamics CRM.

The deliverables from the Microsoft-Salesforce partnership won't hit the market until much later. The companies plan to release Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1, a product they said will let customers access Salesforce from their Windows devices. A preview is slated for the fall, with general availability expected next year.

They also plan to roll out Salesforce for Office 365, which will let customers access, share and edit Office documents from within Salesforce and on Salesforce1 via Office Mobile, Office for iPad and Office 365.

Salesforce for Office 365 also will let customers use OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online as storage repositories for Salesforce, as well as use Salesforce and Outlook together with a new app. It will also be possible with this product to visualize and analyze Salesforce data using Excel and Power BI.

Nadella and Benioff also talked about their companies being customers of each other in various other areas. For example, Microsoft uses Salesforce's ExactTarget digital marketing and analytics product, which in turn is already integrated with Office 365 and SQL Server.

Benioff said Salesforce will use Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform for ExactTarget "development and testing" and that his company would explore other areas where it can further use Azure after this first step.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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