Dropbox and Box are bringing improved collaboration tools to users of Microsoft.
The set of integrations will allow Office Online users to work in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations shared inside Box, Dropbox, Citrix ShareFile and Egnyte.
This means that users which aren’t storing files on Microsoft’s systems will still be able to use the Office web apps in order to collaboratively work on the same file at the same time.
Although this feature was already available for users of Microsoft’s OneDrive and SharePoint, it is the first time this feature has been made available to the other SaaS products.
Other improvements see Office for iOS support directly opening files stored in Box, Dropbox, OneDrive and SharePoint.
On the iOS front, the Office Online support feature now supports editing documents directly from Box. This development has come shortly after the same functionality was provided with Dropbox, while others will soon have this capability as well.
This builds on Box’s ability to preview content from Office for iOS applications, with users now able to create and edit Office files saved in Box directly from Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.
The final improvement comes with Box and Dropbox integrating with Outlook.com. Kirk Joenigsbauer said: "This announcement is just the next step in our journey to make Office files more accessible no matter where they’re stored."
Integration with Outlook.com allows joint customers to easily attach content in Box to emails, which replaces the need to save items to a desktop before they are than attached to an email.
These announcements came as part of Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Partner Program which gives companies such as Box and DropBox the opportunity to work with the company in order to integrate their offerings with its own.
Essentially this is a big collaboration play for Microsoft and the companies that have been more closely integrated with it. For Microsoft it expands its partner ecosystem which strengthens its capabilities in the real-time collaboration market.
For Box and Dropbox, it helps to validate their offerings due to the close nature of the work between the companies.
The Office Online co-authoring integration is live, while integration with Outlook.com will be available to users in the next few weeks.