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Microsoft Office Online Gets New Cloud Storage Options

Microsoft is extending the real-time coauthoring and sharing capabilities of Office Online to partner cloud providers like Box and Dropbox.

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Microsoft has announced the expansion of Office Online features to third-party cloud providers, including Box, Dropbox, Citrix ShareFile, and Egnyte.

Business users who subscribe to these services will have access to the real-time coauthoring capabilities built into Office Online. This enables users to edit documents together and view one another's changes in real-time.

Real-time coauthoring first launched in 2013 for Office Online documents stored in SharePoint and OneDrive. Now users who store their files on Box, Dropbox, ShareFile, and Egnyte can collaborate on documents using Office Web apps -- even if they don't use a Microsoft service to store them.

[Microsoft open sources its deep learning, AI toolkit on GitHub.]

Microsoft is also giving cloud partners the option to integrate with Office for iOS, a follow-up on its integration of Dropbox and OneDrive with Office on iOS and Android in Nov. 2014.

As part of this integration, users can browse Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files stored in a partner's cloud service from within an Office app. Files are updated in the cloud as they are opened, created, and edited from Office Online.

The Office for iOS integration is currently available for Box users. Microsoft promises integration with partners including Edmodo, Citrix ShareFile, and Egnyte is "coming soon." It also promises to follow with other mobile platforms later in 2016.

Finally, Dropbox and Box are being integrated with the latest version of Outlook.com to complement its existing support for OneDrive. Users must have been upgraded to the new Outlook.com in order to access this feature, which will roll out in coming weeks.

The new Outlook.com was first announced in May 2015. Updates included a more refined inbox with message sorting and search suggestions, collaboration via Skype and OneDrive, an improved calendar with new management and search features, and a new mobile Web layout.

As part of Thursday's Outlook.com update, users will be able to find and attach files directly from Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive. Files can be sent as regular attachments or cloud-based links.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

The most recent cloud partner integrations reflect the evolution of Microsoft's Cloud Storage Partner Program (CSPP), which began in Feb. 2015. As part of the program, which aims to bring Office to more cloud storage users, providers partnered with Microsoft to integrate their services with Office Online and Office for iOS.

At the time CSPP was created Box, Citrix, and Salesforce had signed up to join the program. As part of its Jan. 27 news, Microsoft noted that other CSPP partners can also enable real-time coauthoring using a standard interface.

Microsoft is working closely with cloud providers to make content more accessible to Office users. Box launched a Universal App for Windows 10 in April 2015, before the OS became generally available to the public. Dropbox released its Windows 10 app last week on Jan. 21.

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Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio

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Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2016 | 12:10:09 PM
Re: On the right path
@vnewman2 It's good you don't get to use such systems. Even the OneDrive cloud suffers from some issues. One of my colleagues experienced an unintended publication of synced folders in OneDrive. Office Online storage and sync settings for enterprise aren't exactly intutive. It's easy to automatically publish folders to the company's shared space without realizing it.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2016 | 12:06:01 PM
Re: On the right path
They're responding to the market, but very very slowly compared with competitors. I hope it works out. I haven't been pleased with mobile features of mobile office apps. 
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 3:22:22 PM
Re: On the right path
Although I think this is a great step forward for promoting collaboration especially in companys that don't utilize Document Management Systems.  However, I'm not so sure if these partners have truly done all they can to fix the security flaws that have plagued them in recent years.  Our firm personally prohibits us from uploading documents to any of these sites and we use Proofpoint's Secure Share for this reason.  
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 12:49:18 PM
Re: On the right path
@Michelle,

I think Microsoft has learned it's leasson of not playing well with others. The market is too competitives, and both consumer and business users want flexibility. So apparently they are responding...hope they keep up the momentum
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:51:47 PM
Re: On the right path
This is a great improvement for Office Online. I'm pleased to see the addition of third-party cloud storage services. I always assumed Microsoft would push users to use the Microsoft cloud over other providers. This is really good news for Office Online users.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 2:13:54 PM
Re: On the right path
It's a must to bring a cloud storage together with an online office application for convenience. 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2016 | 4:12:53 PM
On the right path
Great Article,

I think Microsoft is spot on on allowing other cloud services be able to integrate with its Office suite, since at the end it leads to more user and business adoption.

MS Office is the perfered (it not default) tool used by most business and users alike, so being on the same cloud version definitly leads to better integration accross the board.
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