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Marc Benioff was on stage talking about the latest milestones for Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM). He announced that Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) bought into the on demand service, adding 15,000 subscribers to the more than 550,000 base of subscribers and the Winter '07 code base has been fully deployed across salesforce.com's data centers. But the highlight of the day was the preview release of Apex, which the company hopes will transform the company from an on demand CRM provider to an full blown application development platform.

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"We want you to be the next salesforce.com," Benioff said, speaking to an audience of mostly customers. "

"Salesforce.com sells the razors (and on demand service and development tools) and third-parties create the blades (applications). We equip everybody with the same tools that salesforce.com developers have," added George Hu, chief marketing officer.

It will allow developers to create any kind of database, user interface and business logic. However, those tools are only available in a preview edition for developers, pre-beta.

With the preview edition of the Java-like Apex programming language, now called Apex Code, developers can get up to speed on the environment and provide feedback to salesforce.com on Apex's design and capabilities. Beta of Apex Code, which will be part of the salesforce.com platform exposed to customers (which has been renamed the Apex On Demand as of the Winter '07 release), is slated for later this year. Salesforce.com is also rolling out Apex developer toolkits for AJAX and Eclipse and a new Wiki-based developer site, the Apex Developer Network.

Source: Salesforce.com Releases Preview Edition of Apex Code