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When a partnership like Google and's gets announced so publicly, it's a safe bet that the message is meant for investors and rivals, not customers. Look at the substance of their new partnership: for Google Apps amounts to adding a tab to link the two Web-based services. helps companies organize their customer leads and sales; Google Apps offers simplified and hence limited Web versions of familiar office-productivity apps like Microsoft Word and Excel. Add 2 + 2, and you get 4, not 5, as Google and Salesforce would have you believe.

Out of this thin straw, Google is spinning a golden tale of a low-cost entry into the enterprise market, and a move against Microsoft, which has been touting the integration of its rival business-software suite, Dynamics, with Microsoft Office. CEO Marc Benioff is honest in his own way about matters. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so that makes Google my best friend," Benioff told the New York Times. A Microsoft executive countered with the meaningless Valley bromide, uttered whenever a rival emerges: "It validates our strategy." He would have done better if he had simply laughed.