Microsoft Adds to OneDrive's Collaboration Features

New updates make it easier for colleagues to share, find and track Office content on Microsoft's cloud file storage service.

New OneDrive features

Microsoft continues to blur the lines between cloud storage and Office-based collaboration with a new update to its OneDrive file sync and share service. Added features include a new option to sync shared folders to PCs and Macs.

"Formerly, users accessed the content shared with them via the Shared list in," explained Jason Moore, group program manager of Microsoft OneDrive, in a company blog post. "Now, with our latest update we are introducing 'Add to my OneDrive,' which lets users add shared folders to their main OneDrive folder so they sync down to the OneDrive app on their Mac or PC, and so they can be viewed and edited in the OneDrive mobile app."

Syncing to PCs and Macs complements Office's new co-authoring capabilities, according to Moore. "The ability to sync shared content to your desktop gets even more powerful when working with others—the latest version of Office lets multiple people work on the documents at the same time, without forking the document (when multiple copies are created due to overlapping edits by different people)."

Users also can keep track of changes to documents stored on OneDrive with two new notification options.

"On your mobile device, the OneDrive app will show real-time notifications of which document is being edited and who edited it—these notifications can also show up on your Apple Watch," said Moore. The update follows last week's bevy of wearables-themed releases from Microsoft, including Outlook and an updated Wunderlist to-do app for the smartwatch. The updated OneDrive app for Android Wear gained notifications last week.

In addition to the mobile alerts, Microsoft has started issuing a new daily summary of edits via email.

The daily round-up "is especially powerful when you are working on a group project and want to quickly see which documents have a latest version you might not be aware of," asserted Moore. OneDrive's version history makes it possible to roll back to previous versions if the latest edits don't pass muster, he reminded. "We have begun rolling out these email and mobile notifications and they will become more widely available in coming weeks."

Finally, OneDrive's search capabilities can venture beyond private repositories and sniff out shared content.

"In recent months we've shipped a lot of powerful search capabilities for your OneDrive, like being able to search for Office documents and PDFs by the text inside them," Moore said. "We extended these features to shared items because while users often remember the file name and location of items they've created themselves, they frequently remember shared files by their contents."

The new update is the latest in the company's attempts to make OneDrive the one-stop cloud storage service for both consumers and business users.

After releasing redesigned OneDrive apps for iOS and Android, in June the company gave the companion Web service a makeover that renders better on browsers. In May, Microsoft enabled data loss prevention (DLP) on OneDrive for Businesses, allowing organizations to control how their content is shared on the cloud.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...