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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.

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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.

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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