debuts upgrade to CRM service

Winter '07 includes a developer preview release of the company's Apex programming language. on Tuesday unveiled the latest version of its on-demand customer relationship management service.

Winter '07, the upgraded version of Salesforce's core on-demand CRM service, includes a developer preview release of its Apex code. The code is meant to ease the ability to write applications and components for use on Apex.

Apex, a Java-like programming language and server infrastructure, is designed to allow customers to build their own free-standing programs or extensions to Salesforce's services.

"All components and applications created with Apex code and the Apex on-demand platform will be able to be shared via Salesforce's AppExchange directory, enabling all the innovation that Apex unleashes to benefit the entire on-demand community," Marc Benioff, Salesforce's chief executive, said in a statement.

AppExchange, launched early last year, aims to serve as a marketplace for hosted business software applications. AppExchange now hosts 500 on-demand applications, and more than 7,500 customers have installed over 20,000 applications, according to Salesforce.

The company said its customers should expect a beta for its Apex code later this year.

Also on Tuesday, the Salesforce Foundation announced a goal to make the company carbon-neutral in 2007, under its "Earthforce" initiative. As the popularity of its on-demand applications service grows, the company is looking to offset the effect of any greenhouse gas emissions that may come as a result.

With the aid of Clean Air-Cool Planet, NativeEnergy and Conservation International, the foundation aims to neutralize the effect of the company's corporate greenhouse gas emissions from its offices, data centers and corporate travel.

Last year, Salesforce's estimated carbon emissions reached nearly 19,700 tons, leading to its allocation of nearly $126,000 to support five renewable-energy projects. The efforts included financing the construction and maintenance of wind farms in South Dakota and Alaska, as well as a family dairy farm methane energy project.

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