In November of 2014, Dropbox announced a surprising partnership with Microsoft to bring Office editing functionality to its iOS and Android mobile apps. Now, the companies have taken their cooperation a step further by integrating Microsoft Office Online into the Dropbox website.
This continued partnership is a win for Microsoft, which continues to battle against the rising tide of Google Docs, but also a huge win for Dropbox users.
This change won’t necessarily affect all users, as Dropbox integrates well into the Microsoft Windows and MacOSX file systems by creating its own folder for stored files. A file can be opened natively, saved and then changes will be auto-uploaded to the cloud by Dropbox.
But if someone is using the browser to view Dropbox, it’s probably because of being on a different computer or a device that doesn’t support Dropbox’s robust file system integration, like a Chromebook, tablet, or phone. Either way, trying to edit the file would result in a download, a possible formatting fiasco, and then no easy way to save the changes except to re-upload to the website manually.
Now that Dropbox has integrated Office Online into their popular cloud storage service, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents can be opened and edited within the web browser. All formatting will be preserved, and editing can commence with Microsoft’s now-familiar Ribbon UI.
After the edit is complete, simply exit. Since you are editing the file that’s stored directly on your Dropbox cloud drive, changes are automatically saved. There’s no downloading, no need to open additional programs and no pop-ups. The integration is well built and seamless.
The most exciting part of this change is that it’s a two-way integration. Users with Office Online accounts can easily add their Dropbox account and then easily and seamlessly create, edit, and manage Office documents in their Dropbox, all entirely for free.
Office Online is not a full-powered suite, only offering basic editing functionality but it’s good enough for the majority of users. You can still share the file with others via e-mail, allowing them to view it, edit it, and update it within your Dropbox account without them being able to access any other files. If you pay for Dropbox Pro, you can also set access privileges for those you share it to.
Also it should be mentioned that Dropbox’s version of Office Online only works with new Office file types (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) from 2007 and up. It’s a curious limitation as the Office Online integrated into Microsoft’s own OneDrive cloud storage will convert older .doc, .xls, and .ppt files to the new format before opening them.
But with all that said, this is a great addition for Dropbox users and Office Online users that rounds out Dropbox’s already feature-packed offering. This integration is available now for anyone with a Dropbox or Microsoft account.