They may be competitors but Dropbox and Microsoft are syncing up.The two companies are making it easier for users of both Microsoft Office and Dropbox to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations on phones, tablets and the Web.
More than 1.2 billion people use Microsoft’s productivity software and Dropbox says it is now home to more than 35 billion Office files.
So the companies will now let a Dropbox user edit Microsoft Office files with a tap of a button on an iPhone or create a PowerPoint presentation in Office on an iPad and save it to Dropbox rather than to Microsoft’s rival service OneDrive.
There is a catch: Dropbox users can only create and edit Office documents if they subscribe to Office 365, mobile and Web version of Office.
The capabilities will first roll out on Dropbox and Office apps for iOS and Android tablets and will be available on the Web next year. Dropbox will also make its application available on the Windows Phone and Windows tablet in coming months
Dropbox has been tightening its relationship with Microsoft. Over the summer it rolled out several Office features for businesses that made it easier for users to collaborate.
As it grows its consumer service into the business realm, Dropbox needs that strong tie to Microsoft which still makes some of the world’s most popular workplace software.
Microsoft is playing catch up to the smartphone revolution under CEO Satya Nadella’s who envisions a “mobile-first and cloud-first world” by tapping the enormous reach of its famous productivity software.
Microsoft had described Dropbox as a “little start-up” and an “isolated, single solution” product.
Its service OneDrive competes directly with Dropbox. But now rather than cutting off services that are popular with consumers and businesses, Microsoft is now reaching out to them.
“Today Office and Dropbox work really well together on the desktop but people have multiple devices and need to have access to productivity tools everywhere,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vide president of Microsoft Office 365 Client Applications. “This is an important extension into the mobile space.”
Dropbox, on the other hand, is surging on mobile.
Created as a desktop app in 2007, it has since grown to 300 million users, fueled by the rise of the smartphone and tablet and people’s desire to access their files no matter where they are or what device they are on.
“I think this is going to be a huge win-win for knowledge and productivity workers around the world,” said Ilya Fushman, head of product at Dropbox.