Microsoft and Dropbox team up to sync Office documents

17/11/2014

Microsoft and Dropbox have formed a partnership to make it easier to use productivity applications on mobile devices and on the Web.

The deal will let users share and edit documents, spreadsheets and other files across both services more easily.

Microsoft are Dropbox are rivals in the storage arena, with Microsft having its own ‘OneDrive’ service.

However, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has notably been striking new deals with long-standing competitors, such as the announced partnership of Salesforce and Microsoft announced at Dreamforce 2014.

"In our mobile-first and cloud-first world, people need easier ways to create, share and collaborate regardless of their device or platform," Nadella said.

According to Microsoft, more than 1.2 billion people use Office, and Dropbox is home to more than 35 billion Office files.

The new capabilities will be available in the next versions of Office apps for Android and iOS, which Microsoft said will be released in the next few weeks.

Over the next year, the companies will extend features to the Web.

In addition, Dropbox will be making its application available on Windows Phone and Windows tablet platforms.

Analysis: Microsoft sabotaging own storage efforts?

Tristan Rogers, CEO of Concrete, an expert in improving enterprise profitability through improved enterprise collaboration processes (with clients such as J Crew, Gap, Kate Spade, Tesco F&F, George and Marks & Spencer) comments on the partnership between Microsoft and Dropbox, and what the future holds for working in the cloud.

“Dropbox has stated its intent to pursue the enterprise market, and Microsoft is the incumbent owner of the enterprise authoring market with Office 365/Sharepoint, so to announce Dropbox as its preferred file sharing tool shows Dropbox’s influence in that market. This must come as a blow to Box, who has been playing the enterprise card for longer than Dropbox (even if its offer is functionally similar), as it will adversely affect the enterprise market’s perception of Box’s compatibility with the Microsoft stack when Dropbox is the “official” service.

“It is unquestionably bad news for Box, for both its upcoming IPO and its core enterprise message. As for any other vendor in cloud storage, the door shut years ago when Box and Dropbox started competing on price. This was then made worse with Microsoft entering the fray along with Google. The fact that Microsoft could be seen to be sabotaging its own storage offer shows the apparent reach Dropbox has achieved and the growing lack of love for Microsoft’s long in the tooth SharePoint offer.

“Big platforms and plug-in services have existed for years (think Salesforce and Force.com), but file-sharing vendors such as Box and Dropbox have attempted to become the “big platform” with their own plug-in eco-system. But file sharing on its own is not a sufficient value proposition for the enterprise market, because it relies on content being authored first as a file, and that market is owned by Microsoft with its Office products. This is why it is logical for Dropbox to hang on to the coat tails of the dominant vendor in the enterprise market. And it could well lead to a sale of Dropbox to Microsoft, which would breathe a huge sigh of relief for Dropbox’s investors, and make Box’s look like they’d backed the wrong horse.

“But beyond the mechanics of the Box’ing match that will ensue, there are signs that a more dramatic change is occurring in the market: the end of files. As the market moves further towards working purely in the cloud, the inconvenience of working off-line and packaging information up to share in a file will fade away (think how Spotify and Pandora made iTunes look old and inconvenient). And whilst certain file types will remain in use for some time to come – Adobe CS files, CADs, MRI files etc. - desktop authoring in Word, Excel and PowerPoint is already being challenged by more collaborative, easier to use, cloud first tools. So what percentage of Dropbox’s enterprise customer content is an Office file? I bet it is more than 50%. So if that content were replaced with cloud first authoring, that would half Dropbox’s value, surely. If I were Satya Nadella, I would be very cautious about going further than the arm’s length relationship with Dropbox, otherwise he might risk buying a box with nothing in it.”

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