Salesforce.com's Dreamforce 2010 conference opened Monday in San Francisco -- and Microsoft is making a bid to capture Salesforce's customers. In an open letter released Monday, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced it will rebate customers up to $200 for each Salesforce.com or Oracle customer who switches to Microsoft's upcoming Dynamics CRM Online 2011.
In the letter, Microsoft Vice President Michael Park said Salesforce.com customers should ask themselves some questions. These include, he said, "How can I justify paying two to three times more for an enterprise CRM system than I need to?"
'99.9 Percent Uptime'
Other questions he raised compare Microsoft's "financially backed 99.9 percent uptime commitment" for every Dynamics CRM customer with Salesforce.com's commitment to "commercially reasonably efforts" to keep a business running. He also touted Microsoft's refreshed-as-needed real-time access to data and dashboards, and the integration of Dynamics CRM Online with Microsoft's Outlook and Office.
Microsoft's price per user per month is $34 in an introductory offer during the first year, which, with the addition of a $200-per-customer one-time rebate, means that one user's cost will be slightly more than $200 per year. The list price of Salesforce's Enterprise Edition is $125 per user per month.
"At Microsoft," Park said in the letter, "we do not believe you should be forced to pay a premium to achieve business success."
Organizations that currently license any of the Salesforce.com editions, or Oracle's Siebel CRM or CRM on Demand, are eligible. The organization will need to buy at least 15 user licenses, and sign a two-year licensing agreement for Dynamics CRM Online. The deal runs from Dec. 6 through June 30, 2011.
The Dynamics CRM Online 2011 product is expected to launch in January, with the on-premises version being available sometime in first quarter.
'A Huge Promotion'
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp., called Microsoft's offer "a huge promotion" that shows the company is "really gearing up its marketing mojo" to push adoption of its Dynamics CRM.
"This is an all-out offensive" to take Salesforce.com's customers, she said.
She noted that this strategy -- where Microsoft spends money to muscle into a market and establish market share -- is one the company has successfully used before, such as in getting NetWare users to switch to Windows NT in the early 90s. At the time, she said, "NetWare looked unassailable," and NT was "nowhere near NetWare" in capabilities.
In addition to the pricing and rebate, she noted, the time period of the Dynamics CRM Online rebate is impressive. "Normally, a rebate is 30, 60, maybe 90 days," DiDio said, but this one lasts until June 30.
Dreamforce 2010 is a Salesforce.com annual event, with events, sessions and products related to CRM, Salesforce.com apps, the Force.com cloud platform, and "overall cloud-computing strategy."