Microsoft and Dropbox Unlikely Partners in Cloud Collaboration

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Despite being competitors in the cloud storage market, Microsoft and Dropbox announced a partnership Tuesday to integrate Office with the popular online sharing service. Office apps and documents will be available in Dropbox for mobile customers and vice versa as the new features roll out in the next few weeks.

Office 365 subscribers will soon be able to create and edit Office files from the Dropbox mobile app and sync changes across devices. Likewise the Office app will allow users to access Dropbox files and save new files to it, whereas previously mobile users had been forced to use Microsoft’s OneDrive storage service. Dropbox links will also be possible to share from Office.

Microsoft is betting the increase in storage flexibility encourages Office 365 adoption, while Dropbox hopes Office integration spurs upgrades from among its 300 million users to premium business accounts. The partnership may also help Office 365 gain traction with small business users, for whom Microsoft launched new plans in July.

Dropbox’s push into the enterprise services market includes the acquisition of MobileSpan in June to make enterprise BYOD secure and practical, and a partnership announced late in 2013 with Dell.

Cloud storage competitor Box raised $150 million in funding in July to go after enterprise market share, but Box’s Office integration is not seamless, as it is based on Microsoft’s open software specifications rather than a partnership, according to the Wall Street Journal blog.

The partnership will move onto the web versions of each service “next year,” according to the Dropbox blog, after the mobile integration is rolled out, in keeping with new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s “mobile first” strategy.

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