Microsoft Versus Salesforce-Google - InformationWeek

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4/16/2008
04:20 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Microsoft Versus Salesforce-Google

Microsoft senior VP Chris Capossela was spitting bullets yesterday when asked about the recently announced Salesforce For Google Apps. "Opportunistic," "uninteresting," and "publicity stunt" were just some of the terms he used to describe the competitive move.

Microsoft senior VP Chris Capossela was spitting bullets yesterday when asked about the recently announced Salesforce For Google Apps. "Opportunistic," "uninteresting," and "publicity stunt" were just some of the terms he used to describe the competitive move.Capossela, who oversees Microsoft's Office System and hosted services, was on the road to provide an update on Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy. Last month, Microsoft launched a beta program of three multitenant, or shared, services: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Office Communications Online. That followed last September's announcement of single-tenant hosted versions of those same applications for companies with a minimum of 5,000 users.

Microsoft is scheduled to make its Dynamics CRM Online generally available this spring. More than 100 customers are using that service under an early access program.

In other words, Microsoft is making progress on the software-plus-services front, and it can do something that Salesforce-Google can't: Give customers their choice of premises-based applications, hosted apps, or a mix of the two. "The big change is having the ability to choose which model works best for you," says Capossela. Microsoft has signed a half dozen big companies to its hosted applications, including a license with Coca-Cola Enterprises for 70,000 Exchange and SharePoint users.

Capossela wasn't impressed with Salesforce's April 14 announcement of Salesforce For Google Apps, which amounts to the integration of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Docs with the Salesforce environment. Salesforce customers, Capossela points out, are probably already using Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client and Office applications. "I think Salesforce's No. 1 request is Outlook integration, not Google integration," Capossela says. "I bet 100% of their customers already have Office."

Indeed, Salesforce already offers some level of integration with Outlook, as described here, and with Word and Excel, detailed here. So, when it comes to software as a service, Microsoft may be behind in some respects, but ahead in others. In other words, just another day in the tech industry -- and something to jaw about.

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