Up until recently, the cloud storage built into the Office Online suite has been limited to the OneDrive platform. Back in November, however, a partnership between Microsoft and DropBox was announced which would allow Office documents to be saved to the latter service. Today, Microsoft has taken this a step further by broadening its scope of viable cloud storage locations.
To start, Microsoft has partnered with Box, Citrix and Salesforce to integrate with Office Web Apps. Very soon, users of these various platforms will be able to open documents within Office Web Apps directly from their cloud storage space. This partnership will also allow users to save right to these services from online versions of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote). iOS versions of Office apps will have native support for saving documents to iCloud.
This roster of compatible services is expected to grow, as Microsoft has also created a site for interested companies to sign up their own cloud services for integration. Compatibility with Android versions of Office is likely to be rolled our soon.
So what does this mean for users of these cloud services? It likely means that businesses will be able to integrate Office Online into their cloud strategies without the need for much change. On the user’s side, the move will allow their documents to be assessable on a (near) universal level. So at least for students and personal users, this may be a big deal.
By allowing Office 365 to work concurrently with these other cloud services, Microsoft is also providing businesses with a method of trying out its services in a more long-term capacity before opting into one of its Office 365 plans. Plans such as these offer unlimited cloud storage to all users, so the “trial period” offered by this wide integration would give business owners a taste of what Office 365 could do for them.
While the advantages to small businesses are numerous, this move is not without its own limitations. Sharing to cloud services outside of OneDrive is specific to certain applications and platforms. For example, saving to iCloud is understandably limited to iOS versions of Office. Meanwhile, the ability to save to Box or DropBox excludes the actual installed Office client, but keeps the web app as an option.
By integrating all of these platforms with the Office brand, Microsoft has offered up a hint as to how it will approach its cloud offerings. By nature, the Internet is an entirely open platform, which has granted a greater degree of freedom and flexibility to businesses today. It seems Microsoft wishes to mesh their business model with this ideal and offer that same level of flexibility with their services.
If you’d like more info about these changes, head on over to the Office Blog for details. Or if you’re looking for an Office 365 partner who can help you implement your own cloud strategy, give us a call! We’d be happy to lend you a hand.