Office Online Real-Time Co-Editing Comes to 3rd-Party Cloud Services
One year into its Cloud Storage Partner Program, Microsoft is rolling out new Office integration capabilities for cloud storage partners such as Box and Dropbox. Among the new features announced yesterday, are support for real-time editing of Office documents stored in the cloud, as well as better integration with Office for Apple's iOS mobile operating system and cloud storage integration with Outlook.com, Microsoft's e-mail service.
Cloud-based content storage providers are increasingly linking their fortunes with Microsoft's, which makes sense when you consider that the company claims more than 1.2 billion users for its Office software. In turn, Microsoft is continually working to make it ever-easier for cloud storage customers to make Office their go-to software when collaborating online. Hence, the new Office integration features.
Users can now co-author and edit Office documents stored through cloud services from Box, Citrix ShareFile, Dropbox and Egnyte. Over the next few weeks, Microsoft said it plans to make it easier for Box, Dropbox and OneDrive users to attach and send stored files through Outlook.com.
Automatic Saving of Cloud-Based Edits
"Today's interoperability announcements are another step in our journey to make Office more open for customers and partners," Office corporate vice president Kirk Koenigsbauer said yesterday in a post on Microsoft's Office blog.
The new capabilities for real-time co-authoring let users of Box, Dropbox and other cloud storage providers access Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents through a shared folder and then add content or make changes that are immediately visible to the other users in that folder.
The changes are automatically saved in the cloud, meaning users no longer have to exchange different versions by e-mail or worry about whether the documents they're viewing include all the most recent updates they've made.
Microsoft first introduced such real-time editing for Office users who stored their documents on its own cloud-based OneDrive and SharePoint Online storage systems. Now any other cloud storage provider in Microsoft's partner program can enable the same type of real-time editing using standard interfaces. Koenigsbauer noted in the blog post.
Aiming for Office 'No Matter Where'
The new co-authoring capabilities reflect an industry-wide trend toward enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS), something that will become increasingly standard for business users, according to a July 2015 Magic Quadrant report from the analyst firm Gartner Inc.
"The market for EFSS offerings has grown rapidly since 2010, with more than 140 players originating from a variety of markets and technology backgrounds having different approaches and business models," Gartner noted in the report. As the EFSS market continues to consolidate, users will "look for flexibility of deployment and integration between existing data repositories and those in the cloud," according to the report.
By integrating its Office software more tightly with cloud storage providers, Microsoft aims to stay on top of that trend. "We want Office to be the preferred way to work with documents no matter where they're stored," Koenigsbauer said last year upon announcing the new Cloud Storage Partner Program.
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