Dropbox and Microsoft Office: perfectly integrated for compatibility, security, and usability

Although some users might prematurely judge Dropbox and Office as rivals, everyone at Damson Cloud argues that these two services actually complement each other superbly. If you’re a London-area business that loves the Office 365 suite, we highly recommend combining it with Dropbox for Business to help you achieve data compliance.

Most users are at least casually acquainted with what Dropbox does. Whether they store files in their local Dropbox folder, or at dropbox.com, the contents will be synced across all devices connected to that account.

Colleagues can quickly add a shared Dropbox folder to their workstation to benefit from seamless cloud storage and sharing. Instead of emailing a revised document back and forth, each person can open the file locally, edit it, and notify the rest of their team that they have made changes.

But cloud providers are getting competitive, and Dropbox for Business accounts have received a number of upgrades to keep the service ahead of the pack.

Office and Dropbox mobile apps are cross-compatible

Back in 2014, these two software vendors brought their spheres of influence closer together by making their iOS and Android mobile apps compatible. Office mobile app users can access files stored in Dropbox without switching apps, no differently than if the file were saved on their device or in Microsoft’s OneDrive.

To save its own app from irrelevance, Dropbox added a feature that would allow Office documents to be edited within the Dropbox mobile app, and eventually it even became possible to create totally new Office files without switching to the Microsoft app.

New feature: emailing Dropbox files from within Outlook

Microsoft Outlook apps on Android and iOS already have intuitive access to Dropbox files, and now some of those features are coming to Outlook.com. In the coming weeks, users will be able to attach Dropbox files to an email without ever leaving their inbox.

Dropbox for Business files will be accessible to Outlook.com users and can be attached as traditional attachments or as a link to a shared cloud space, if the file is too big. In practice, this will allow users to send emails from a computer without any Microsoft software installed, and to attach their cloud-based files without any localized Dropbox syncing required.

Editing online

If there’s one thing the whole setup was missing, it was editing through cloud-based software. And in the middle of 2015, that became a reality. Whether you’re logging in from a company workstation, a home laptop, or a friend’s desktop, just being able to access your Dropbox for Business account is all you need to work on one of your documents.

An Office Online editor was incorporated into Dropbox.com, and from then on, edits could be made and synced to your cloud storage folder without ever logging into a Microsoft account. And in keeping with the cross-compatibility, if you’re working from Office Online, files stored in Dropbox can be opened and edited without switching platforms or downloading a local copy.

New feature: live editing

But despite all the wonderful accessibility features, collaborating on documents still required users to edit an Office document one at a time. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Users can finally enjoy the security and ease of administration that come with a Dropbox for Business account and the real-time co-authoring native to Office 365 documents.

From your Dropbox.com, click the dropdown arrow next to the Open button, and select Microsoft Word Online. It’s the same editor users have grown accustomed to, but with the ability for multiple users to edit simultaneously. Coloured cursors will show where other users are contributing to the document, so everyone is on the same page about what is going on.

All of the changes will be saved in Dropbox, and users who don’t own the file can continue making edits after the author has closed the window (as long as the sharing permissions allow it). Don’t believe us? Go check it out — this new integration went live as of the January announcement!

Despite offering its own cloud storage platform, Microsoft sees potential for growth in making its 365 documents as accessible as possible. Dropbox for Business users will still need Office 365 licenses, so even though we’ve already gotten almost everything we could ask for, the two cloud software providers probably still have a lot more up their sleeves.

If you’re interested in integrating Dropbox for Business and Office 365 into one full-featured solution for your business, send us a message today.

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