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Google and Salesforce.com are exchanging Web 2.0 friendship bands today, forging a closer relationship in the hope of directly threatening their nemesis in customer management and office software: Microsoft.

Following weeks of speculation, the firms will make an announcement outlining details of the deal later today. According to reports, the two will reveal that Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM) software has been integrated with Google’s office apps into a single offering, dubbed Salesforce for Google Apps.

From today customers will have the option of using versions of Google Apps, Gmail (Googlemail in the UK), Google Talk and Calendar with links to Salesforce that will allow peeps to do all their CRM admin under one Web-2.0 shaped roof.

Today's announcement follows ten months of eyelid batting between Google and Salesforce.

In June last year Salesforce began integrating Google’s AdWords into its website, and by November it had joined OpenSocial – a Google-led pact containing three APIs intended to make it easier for developers to navigate the sprawl of online services with social elements.

Google’s decision to expand on its partnership with Salesforce comes just months after Microsoft launched its latest CRM product, which is integrated with its own office suite. Microsoft has also been plumping up its own online office presence with the arrival, in beta, of Office Live Workspaces last month.

Whether Salesforce will consider similar integration with Microsoft down the road remains open to speculation, however.

Just last week IT analyst firm Gartner pointed to the proliferation of data centres built by tech giants such as Google, IBM and Microsoft to pump out CRM and web-based office apps to the masses.

“Already, more and more tools and applications, such as Office software, e-mail and CRM are being served from such centres, and we can expect the range of applications and services available to grow,” said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

“Why pay to build it and maintain it, if you can buy it in at a fraction of the price? Achieving the requisite cost advantages will take time and scale, but it will be feasible for many of the applications we use today.” ®

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