On Tuesday the company said it’s launched tight integration between its own Lightning application components so they can be “snapped into” a customer’s Outlook mail inbox. And a new Sync product to let joint customers synchronize their contacts and calendar appointments across Outlook and the Salesforce Sales and Marketing Cloud applications. Given that there are many sales pros who use both Outlook for email and Salesforce for managing their sales leads and contacts, this makes sense.
“We’ve had Outlook integration for years. What’s different in Lightning for Outlook is that Lightning components can now be dragged and dropped right into the Outlook screen,” Greg Gsell, director of Sales Cloud product marketing told Fortune. “The Lightning component framework lets me put components from Salesforce or third parties into applications.”
A salesperson can use a Salesforce quoting application from his or her mailbox to update a sales quote on the fly, for example, without having to toggle back and forth between applications. The Lightning for Outlook app and Sync are both available now from the Microsoft Office App Store.
Salesforce launched a big partnership with Microsoft two years ago and these new linkages, along with a new Lightning Experience in Outlook, are just the latest fruits of that, Gsell, said.
Salesforce (CRM) and Microsoft (MSFT) have a complicated relationship. Microsoft fields its own sales application, called Dynamics CRM, that competes with Sales Cloud, although Salesforce is more prevalent in large customer accounts while Dynamics CRM is typically found in smaller companies despite Microsoft’s attempts to entrench it in existing Office shops. Salesforce was also reportedly interested in buying LinkedIn (LNKD). a social network company that Microsoft ended up buying for $26.2 billion.
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And last year there was lots of heated talk about Microsoft buying Salesforce in a deal that some reported fell apart over price. More recently, as noted above, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff has been waxing poetic about Amazon Web Services and announced plans to launch new applications in new geographies using AWS. And all Amazon (AMZN) employees, in what could be a sort of quid pro quo, now have the rights to use all of Salesforce’s sales and marketing products.
That cloud deal with Amazon had to be considered a blow to Microsoft, which dearly wants more enterprise workloads to run on its Azure cloud.