Microsoft Office Rolls Out Welcome Mat for Cloud Storage Companies

Building on its partnership with Dropbox, Microsoft opens the floodgates to more Office cloud integrations.


Microsoft is working to make Office synonymous with mobile productivity, and that means following users to their choice of cloud storage providers.

"We want Office to be the preferred way to work with documents no matter where they're stored," declared Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, in a Feb. 17 announcement of two new Office integrations. New features include file picker integration that supports third-party cloud storage services in iPad and iPhone Office apps and Office Online integration for partner cloud applications.

"While these may seem like small enhancements, these new features represent a big step forward for Office integration into the apps and services that are important to our customers," Koenigsbauer said.

The new capabilities come a few months after Microsoft and Dropbox inked a deal to integrate their services, enabling users to quickly access and edit files regardless of which platform they use.

"People around the world have embraced Office and Dropbox to empower the way they live and work today. Our partnership with Microsoft will make it easier than ever to collaborate seamlessly across these platforms, giving people the freedom to get more done," said Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, in a Nov. 4, 2014, statement.

Today, Microsoft is casting a much wider net.

Koenigsbauer revealed that "third-party cloud storage providers can natively integrate into the 'Locations' picker in the iOS Office apps" starting today. "This will enable users to open, edit and save documents from these providers right from within Office."

The new feature is enabled on the iPad and iPhone Office apps for Apple's iOS mobile operating system. Microsoft is currently "hard at work" on enabling the same functionality on Universal Office apps for Windows 10 and the Android versions, said Koenigsbauer.

Microsoft also today launched the new Cloud Storage Partner Program, allowing other cloud storage and application providers to integrate Office Online—the browser-based versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint—into their own offerings. Early participants include Salesforce, Citrix and Box.

Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie hailed Microsoft's new, more open approach to cloud-based productivity in a Feb. 17 blog post.

"While new integrations are built for the Box platform on a daily basis—there are billions of Box API calls every month—Microsoft has made huge mobile and cross-platform strides, boldly taking an open path for Office 365," wrote Levie. "Customers and the industry are going to benefit tremendously because of this direction."

Starting today, Box users can access their files directly from their Office iOS apps. Box plans to enable Office Online support on its Website later this year, assured Levie.

For Microsoft, the Cloud Storage Partner Program and expanded set of integrated Office experiences are symbolic of the company's post-PC product strategy.

"Today's announcements are just one more step on our continuing journey to open up Office in new ways for our customers and partners," Koenigsbauer said. "Living in a cloud-first, mobile-first world is all about having the flexibility to get things done from anywhere and on any device."

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...