After announcing the launch of its Cloud Storage Partner Program (CSPP) last February, Microsoft (MSFT) announced it has made several adjustments based on member feedback, including the ability to co-author Office Online documents in real time.
The news was announced on Wednesday on Microsoft’s Office Blog. Straight from the post, here is a rundown of the new enhancements as detailed by Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Office 365 Client, Apps and Services Team Kirk Koenigsbauer.
Real-time Document Co-Authoring: This feature allows CSPP members using Office Online to simultaneously edit documents housed within Box, Citrix ShareFile, Dropbox and Egnyte accounts, a la the live editing features seen in Google Docs. Interestingly, this feature was previously only available for Office Online documents stored in Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Online, according to Koenigsbauer.
Microsoft has also made real-time co-authoring available to all partners in the CSPP program using standard interfaces as of this week.
Deeper Office Integration with iOS: Koenigsbauer said positive feedback from users in regard to Microsoft’s previous integration between its iOS and Android-based Office apps and Dropbox led the company to tack on additional integration features for CSPP members. Beginning immediately, users can designate specific partner cloud services as so-called “places” in Office, mirroring a similar feature in Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. That means users can browse for their Office suite files on the cloud directly within an Office app, with the ability to edit or create apps without the need to download them, according to the blog post.
CSPP members can currently utilize the integration via Box, with integration from Citrix ShareFile, Edmondo and Egnyte forthcoming, according to the announcement.
Koenigsbauer said additional mobile platforms are expected to launch with this feature later in the year, although no specific launch window was provided.
Dropox and Box Integration with Outlook.com: Until now, Office Online users who wished to access their Dropbox and Box files had to do so via the dedicated Outlook apps on iOS and Android. This week, Microsoft announced that Outlook.com users will also have the ability to attach files from Dropbox and Box directly from their email client, with the option to send them as traditional attachments or as cloud-based links.
Again, this feature was previously only available to Outlook.com users who OneDrive support, signaling Microsoft’s increased willingness to work with third-party cloud storage providers. Koenigsbauer did not elaborate on the exact date of availability for the Dropbox and Box support.
The changes to Office Online are the latest in Microsoft’s efforts to improve various areas of its cloud business. Earlier this month, the company announced it had acquired assets from Event Zero in an effort to bolster its Skype for Business online offering; Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster also detailed a change to the Digital Partner of Record program that will enable partners to earn more credit for working together on customer solutions.