Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff knew the conversation would be special, so on the opening day of Dreamforce, Salesforce’s user conference in San Francisco this week, he brought Microsoft Windows Vice President Tony Prophet on stage for a fireside chat.

After some genuine, inspirational, heart-to-heart talk about their mutual charitable work at Benioff’s Children’s Hospital at University of California San Francisco (UCSF), among other things, Benioff dropped his jaw.

"A year ago at Dreamforce we would not have thought Microsoft would have been here, on stage,” he said. “It's a shock."

And to him it certainly seemed to be, and for good reason. But are things always what they seem? 

Times Have Changed

Thirteen months earlier Benioff was publicly berating Microsoft as “such a disaster,” insisting that Bill Gates come back to the company he founded to “push the reset button” on mantras like "Windows everywhere" and on its management team.

Yesterday the Cloud Guru sounded like a spokesperson for Microsoft’s mobile-first, cloud-first strategy. 

And Prophet, for his part, held Benioff up like an enterprise super-hero calling him a “massive celebrity” and a “beacon and North Star for business leaders."

The two agreed that in this new world where mobile, social, cloud and data rule, cooperation and, transparency are foundational. And that their companies would bring more value to their customers by working together than separately.


Microsoft and Salesforce then released a number of announcements. The big picture for analysts and investors: we’ll serve all of our stakeholders better (and grow our respective customer bases(s) and top lines) if we play nicely together.

But the biggest beneficiaries of the news may be information workers who won’t have to jockey between Salesforce services and Microsoft’s productivity tools.

Learning Opportunities

Here's What You'll Get

In 2015, here’s what Salesforce and Microsoft customers can look forward to: 

A Salesforce for Office app that will give customers access to the content they need to collaborate, sell, service and market from virtually anywhere, at any time. It includes:

  • Salesforce Files to help customers unlock files from Microsoft SharePoint so they are mobile, social and can be used in the context of any Salesforce business process. Salesforce Files are available now.
  • Salesforce1 integration with Microsoft Office, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business on iOS devices and Android phones will enable customers to seamlessly open, edit and save documents. General availability is anticipated for the first half of 2015.
  • Salesforce1 App for Outlook which will work with Microsoft Outlook 2013, Exchange Server 2013 and Office 365 to let customers access and manage their Salesforce information right from Outlook. General availability is anticipated for the first half of 2015.

Power BI for Office 365 and Excel integrations with Salesforce. With these new integrations, customers will be able to bi-directionally load data to Salesforce and Excel to build reports, visualize information and discover new insights. Salesforce integration with Power Query for Excel is in preview now, with general availability anticipated for the first half of 2015. Power BI integration with Salesforce is anticipated for the first half of 2015. A Salesforce app for Excel is anticipated for the second half of 2015. 

But Wait Until You Read This 

A marriage made in heaven? We thought so, but then we found an interesting comment in an Inc. Magazine article in which Salesforce exec Jody Kohner sheds a different light on the relationship. Here’s what she told new recruits during a company boot camp. She’s speaking specifically about the Salesforce Microsoft partnership:

This is literally a killer partnership. Like, 'We're gonna wrap our arms around Microsoft. We're gonna pretend like we're a boa constrictor. And we're gonna suck the life out of them.'”

Pair that with how Power BI might coexist with Wave, Salesforce’s new analytics cloud.

It should be an interesting ride.

Title image by Pascal  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.