creates plug-in for MS Office has created a plug-in for Microsoft Office which allows users to import data from the online CRM... has created a plug-in for Microsoft Office which allows users to import data from the online CRM service into Word, Excel and Outlook.

"The service is the server," said chairman and chief executive officer Marc Benioff. Office Edition is available to all customers at no charge. The software is easy to install and creates pull-down menus in the Office applications, allowing users to sign into and pull data from the CRM system.

The plug-in for Office was created using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and works with Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003. VBA ships as part of Office and is the Office language that macros are written in.

Adding the software allows users to retrieve data only, not work on data in Excel or Word and then upload it to the system. Uploading data is possible but requires more, probably custom software development, said Peter Gassner, a senior vice president and general manager.

"Data retrieval is pretty straightforward. There are more varied scenarios when you talk about putting data back into the system," he said. "We may over time have a very generic bidirectional system that will work for all customers."

Gassner said the download feature provides several benefits, which include the ability to generate customer proposals in Word automatically by merging data from with a Word document, and the ability to analyse data in Excel. claims to have about 8,400 customers and 120,000 subscribers. Last month, the application service provider filed papers last month for an initial public offering later this year.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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