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Microsoft Is Fusing The Consumer And Business Versions of OneDrive—Starting With Android

More evidence that this is a new Redmond we're dealing with.

Microsoft's OneDrive online storage service is available in two versions. There's the consumer edition, which more than 250 million people use, and there's OneDrive for Business, which adds additional features relating to security and legal compliance that corporate customers care about.

The company is rolling out a new version of the OneDrive mobile app that lets you access both versions. Your own stuff and your company's stuff are both available, and you can switch between them with a few taps.

That's at least mildly interesting. But here's a fact about the new version that I find fascinating: It's arriving first in the Android version of OneDrive.

According to Microsoft corporate vice president Chris Jones, there's no big strategic reason why the new feature is debuting on Android—it's just timing relating to a recent Microsoft reorganization that put its OneDrive and SharePoint teams into one group, pooling the company's consumer and work-oriented online storage efforts. That merger happened at least in part because Microsoft wanted its services to reflect a world in which the average phone, tablet, and PC is used for both personal and professional purposes.

"It was the first thing on our list, the first client we shipped out of the combined organization," Jones says of the Android app. "The first opportunity to deliver on that promise."

Of course, the very fact that Microsoft is willingly improving an app for a competing operating system before it gets around to adding the same features to the Windows version is a reflection of the company's recent strategy to try to make its products good everywhere people use them, most famously reflected in Office for the iPad. (That productivity suite is excellent, and it shipped back in March; Microsoft is also working on a fully touch-centric version of Office for Windows, but it still isn't out.)

The company was moving in this direction even before it named Satya Nadella as its new CEO in February. But an open-minded eagerness to embrace any platform that large numbers of people use is turning out to be a defining characteristic of the Nadella era, at least so far. And the fact that some of those platforms are far more popular than Microsoft's own offerings shows how much has changed about personal computing since the days when Windows was almost the only thing that mattered.

[Photo: Flickr user JD Hancock]

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