Dropbox and Microsoft put away the boxing gloves with new integration

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan November 4, 2014
In another sign of the new regime under Satya Nadella on Microsoft, Office 365 users will soon see the Dropbox icon pop up alongside the firm’s own OneDrive on tablets and mobile devices.

Up until now, Dropbox users have only been able to preview Office documents. But over the next few weeks, new editing capabilities will roll out to all Dropbox users on iOS and Android over the next few weeks, while Dropbox for Business users with Office 365 licenses will get access to this functionality in the first half of 2015.

The alliance comes only a few days after Microsoft announced it is removing OneDrive storage limits for Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers, with OneDrive for Business customers further down the road. That was a clear shot across the bows to Dropbox and Google.

But there are clear reasons for this new found detente, not the least of which is that more than 35 billion Office files are stored in Dropbox today, Furthermore, Dropbox capabilities are a key item on the Office 365 for iPad wish list.

Dropbox’s Ilya Fushman said:

Today, Dropbox has 300 million users, of whom 70% are international, and a ton of them use Dropbox to get work done. These people have uploaded something like 35 billion Office files. Today, they get a great experience on the desktop, but what we’re doing now is taking that experience to mobile and the web.

Features that users will get from this alliance include the ability to:

  • Edit Office files from the Dropbox mobile app and sync changes across devices.
  • Create a file at home and finish it on the go — any edits will automatically save to Dropbox.
  • Access Dropbox files from the Office app and save new files to Dropbox. Sync docs without leaving the Office app.
  • Share Dropbox links from Office.
  • Share documents by sending a Dropbox link.

There’s no mention of integrating Dropbox with Office on the desktop as yet.

One potential loser here appears to rival Box, whose Box for Office 365 is an extension that allows users to access documents stored in Box without leaving Word, Excel or Powerpoint on their PC, but not the type of integration Dropbox has won.

Box CEO Aaron Levie said at the time of the announcement in September:

We’ve also heard from customers that they want it available in Office on the iPad. Fortunately, Microsoft is taking a much more open stance. It is becoming more interopable so we are quite confident this is an integration it will be building towards.

But he ended up flashing up an image of Nadella’s Twitter profile and urging the audience at BoxWorks to tweet him in favor of Box integration with Office for iPad:

Here is one person who can make this go along a lot faster. You can reach out to him at any time you like to say you want Box for Office 365 on the iPad.

That may seem less likely today.

My take

Good move for Dropbox which gains approved access to all that Microsoft user base and another sign that Nadella’s push for more openness and partnering by Microsoft is not just fine words.

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