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Microsoft adds real-time collaboration for Office Online docs
Real-time co-authoring with Office Online for docs stored in partner cloud services
Business users who utilise cloud storage providers like Box, Citrix ShareFile, Dropbox now have some improved tools in their collaboration toolkits, thanks to a new set of additions that Microsoft announced on 27/1/2016. Office Online users can now work in real time on their documents, spreadsheets and presentations shared inside Box, Dropbox, Citrix ShareFile and Egnyte.
That means that Online Office users are no longer tied to OneDrive and will still be able to use the Office web apps to work together on the same files all at the same time.
This real-time, “co-authoring” feature has already been available for people who used Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint since 2013, and the addition of these new cloud storage providers to the list will open up online co-authoring to an even wider audience.
As well as the Office Online support, Office for iOS now also supports editing documents directly from Box as well as the recently added Dropbox service, other cloud providers, including Egnyte and ShareFile, will be added to the line-up very soon, according to Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer.
That means users who store their files with those cloud providers will be able to access their documents directly from the relevant Office apps instead of indirectly via file explorers.
Lastly, Microsoft also announced that Box and Dropbox will also integrate with Outlook.com, so that users of those cloud services will be able to send attachments that they have stored in the cloud, either as traditional files or as shared links. This feature will allow users to avoid the traditional limits on attachment size, should they need to share large files such as videos.
These welcome additions to Office functionality should help in Microsoft’s battle with Google Docs in the collaboration market. Users now have a far more wide ranging choice in compatible cloud storage providers which has to be a good thing.
The company is currently working on making real-time co-authoring possible for SharePoint and OneDrive users inside the Office 2016 desktop applications as well as the existing online apps. If this is also rolled out in time to other cloud services like Box and Dropbox et al, we will have true co-authoring of documents independent of cloud provider, location, device and OS – welcome to the revolution.