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Microsoft is really serious about enabling its services to run on all devices and work with other companies’ products.
The latest example: The Office app for iPhones and iPads can now save files to Apple’s relatively new cloud storage service, iCloud Drive, along with other cloud services providers, including Box, Google Drive, and any other service that decides to enable integration with Microsoft Office.
In the updated Microsoft Office app, the locations menu will let you open, edit, and save documents stored with the service of your choice. It’s not perfect — for instance, certain text files stored in iCloud will be read-only. Previously, the file picker in the Word, Excel, and Powerpoint apps only could display files stored in Microsoft OneDrive, and in a update last November, Dropbox.
Microsoft also announced that Office can now be integrated into other companies’ enterprise applications, such as Box, Salesforce, and Citrix.
Microsoft still has a tricky tightrope to walk between recommending and selling its own services while still giving users and business users the flexibility to use the tools they prefer. It also puts companies like Box into an odd arrangement where they are both competing with Microsoft’s products while also collaborating with the Redmond giant. Now that a lot of companies have their own sync-and-storage product, Box and Dropbox want to turn into platform companies, which runs counter to Microsoft’s aims. But for the time being, the Office app can open Box files, and later this year, Office Online will be able to be opened in the Box app.
It’s also a bit of a defensive move to claim the interoperability mantle for mobile productivity — last week Apple opened the beta of its free web-based iWork suite to Windows users, but Apple’s probably not adding OneDrive integration. Google’s web-based work suite only works with files saved on Google Drive.
The update adding support for iCloud and other cloud service providers is available from the iTunes App Store today. Microsoft says its “hard at work” adding the same features to the Office apps for Windows and Android.