This year's Dreamforce gathering has 140,000 registered participants (Photo: Arjen Bongard)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Salesforce.com opened its annual mega-convention here with a series of announcements that underscored the business software group's determination to continue to grow its business sharply.

The company announced at its Dreamforce event here how it plans to offer tighter integration with Microsoft productivity software. Salesforce and Microsoft signed a strategic cooperation pact in May.

New products, which will mostly be available next year, will make it easier for businesses to work with both Microsoft and Salesforce software suites.

Salesforce said it will provide integration of the Salesforce1 CRM platform with Microsoft's dominant Office productivity suite, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business on iOS devices and Android phones. This will let customers seamlessly open, edit and save documents, the company said in a press release.

“Today is about putting the customer first,” said Salesforce founder and Ceo Marc Benioff. “Together with Microsoft, we are building bridges that allow customers to be more productive.”

In a a talk on stage with Tony Prophet, Microsoft's corporate vice president in charge of Windows marketing, Benioff expressed surprise that the cooperation with Microsoft had yielded results so quickly.But Prophet said the cooperation between the two companies was logical given their dominant positions in key business areas. Microsoft is the leading provider of PC operating systems and productivity software to companies, while Salesforce is the dominant CRM player.

Salesforce.com, which was founded in 1999, has expanded sharply as the growing availability of customer data opens up new opportunities for customer relationship management. In its fiscal second quarter, which ended July 31, the company's revenue soared 38 pc from year-earlier levels to 1.32 billion dlrs. Benioff said in August that he expects group sales for the full fiscal year to rise 32 pc to 5.37 billion dlrs.

Salesforce unveiled a new cloud-based analytics product called Wave at Dreamforce. Wave will be available on all devices and platforms, which Benioff said will bring a significant innovation to the analysis market "We're empowering companies to know their customers like never before," he said.

In a third announcement, Salesforce introduced a new, simplified way to develop mobile apps call Lightning. The new tool will let developers and business users create purpose-built apps for almost all end-user devices. The company underlined the importance of mobile apps for business, citing eMarketer research that showed the number of apps downloaded is set to double to 160 billion a year in 2017 from 80 billion last year.

Dreamforce, which has 140,000 registered participants, will close Thursday.

-By Arjen Bongard