SAN FRANCISCO Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Thursday it would integrate rival Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) apps into its Windows and online Office platforms, furthering Chief Executive Satya Nadella's drive to make the company more cloud-computing friendly.
The main thrust of the tie-up means Salesforce's popular customer-management apps will be available on Windows desktop PCs, tablets and mobile devices, while Salesforce users will be able to access Microsoft Office content such as Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
The two companies will also allow for fuller data integration features. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The collaboration is the latest sign that Nadella, who became CEO almost four months ago, is intent on forcing Microsoft to work with companies that have a better hold on mobile customers. The new approach, which Nadella calls “mobile first, cloud first,” started with the move in March to make Office available on Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPad.
While Salesforce has been a pioneer in cloud software, Microsoft has long been criticized by industry analysts as moving too slowly to the cloud-based, subscription software model favored by smaller and nimbler enterprises that prefer to pay as they go.
"Nadella recognized the need to partner as the company cannot do this alone," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "Salesforce remains the pioneer of cloud computing and this significantly expands Microsoft's cloud opportunity."
Thursday's announcement is also a sharp turn for Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, an outspoken former Apple programmer, who has often railed publicly against Microsoft's reliance on installed software. Microsoft itself is a direct competitor of Salesforce.com with its Microsoft Dynamics suite of business tools.
(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Additional reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)