Salesforce.com builds links to Microsoft

A new feature lets users of Salesforce's sales and customer service software quickly create business documents with the software giant's desktop applications.

Alorie Gilbert Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Alorie Gilbert
writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
Alorie Gilbert
Salesforce.com is demonstrating the fruits of a partnership with Microsoft.

The company on Wednesday said a new feature lets users of its sales and customer service software quickly create business documents with Microsoft's desktop applications.

Salesforce, which competes with Microsoft in the market for customer relationship management software, released the new Office Edition feature to customers this week, the company said.

The San Francisco company is one the pioneers of a new kind of software delivery model that's gaining popularity. Instead of shipping programs for customers to install and maintain, the company runs the software on its own computers and charges a monthly fee for businesses to access it over the Web. Salesforce rivals include Salesnet, NetSuite and Siebel Systems, which recently entered the so-called software-as-a-service arena.

During a media briefing in San Francisco, Salesforce executives showed how Microsoft's popular desktop applications, including Word, Excel and Outlook, could grab data directly from Salesforce's systems to generate sales proposals and charts. The companies have also added Salesforce pull-down menus to Microsoft's desktop applications.

Office Edition is available at no additional charge to Salesforce subscribers, the company said.