Mobile was supposed to be one of those new Microsoft touchstones, of course. More interesting, though, was Nadella’s pledge to double down on the cloud, a space where competitors like Apple and Google have–notably, inevitably–had their share of hiccups.
Today Microsoft expanded upon its cloud strategy, announcing a new partnership with online storage company Dropbox, which will allow for easy integration between Dropbox’s platform and Microsoft’s suite of Office 365 products on tablets, phones, and the web. The partnership is still in the early stages, but essentially the goal is to make it easy for Microsoft’s 1.2 billion Office users to more easily work on and save their documents in the cloud using Dropbox, and vice versa.
Say you open Dropbox in iOS. You can tap edit on a Word or Excel file, which will boot up the corresponding Office app. When you click out and save, it will sync back to Dropbox, where you can then, say, send a download link to a coworker. Or: Take the flip side. “If you open the Office app first, you’ll be able to see Dropbox as one of the places where you can store files,” Ilya Fushman, head of product for Dropbox, tells Fast Company. “You’ll be able to open that same file within the Office apps.”
And here’s the nice part for Microsoft: If that user doesn’t already have the appropriate Office app, clicking on it in Dropbox will take them to a screen where they can download it.
Amanda Lefebvre of Microsoft Office product marketing says Dropbox integration was one of the company’s “top requests.” She says the company doesn’t consider Dropbox a threat to OneDrive (née SkyDrive), Microsoft’s own cloud storage platform, but sees it as another green checkmark in the feature column for Office users. “We’re just adding one additional storage option,” says Lefebvre.
Dropbox tells me that users have uploaded over 35 billion documents to the storage platform, which is an eye-boggling figure that will only continue to grow, particularly for users averse to less feature-packed (but free!) competitors like Google Drive.
Office apps for iOS and Android will get the Dropbox integration sometime in the “next few weeks.” And web integrations between the Dropbox website and Office Online will be available in the first half of 2015.