Microsoft and Dropbox have inked a deal to integrate their cloud-hosted stuff: mobile users of Office 365 will be able to automatically save files to their Dropbox account from within Redmond's software.
And Dropbox users will also be able to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files within the Dropbox and share them within the firm's business groups system.
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"People need easier ways to create, share and collaborate regardless of their device or platform," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella before narrowing down "regardless of their device or platform" to "Android and iOS."
Office 365 apps for the pair of mobile operating systems will be updated shortly, Microsoft said.
And over the next couple of months, Dropbox will build a Windows tablet and Windows Phone app for its service that drills into Office 365; the ability to edit and share files within Dropbox groups should be available by the middle of next year.
The deal came as a bit of a surprise to some, since Microsoft already has its own cloud storage system: OneDrive. But the arrangement makes sense for both parties.
Dropbox, which stores more than 35 billion Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in its servers, gets slicker access to Office 365 users. The firm also gets another way to promote its groups service for business customers – and Dropbox makes the bulk of its money from its biz subscriptions.
Meanwhile, Microsoft gets access to the estimated 200 million Dropbox users and the chance to flog them some Office 365 subscriptions at the same time. As for OneDrive, Microsoft's quite willing to let Dropbox take on some of the load of files being stored online, since such storage is often a loss leader.
We forget how new having vast amounts of online storage is. Ten years ago Hotmail users were limited to 4MB per person, and it was only when Google smashed in with 1GB of free storage that other email providers were forced to follow suit.
The same is true for cloud storage; prices are falling through the floor. By inking the deal with Dropbox, Microsoft saves itself a packet on storage arrays and gets a load of potential new contract wins for Office 365, which is under pressure from Google Apps and others. ®