Microsoft Office Online has partnered with cloud storage service Box to remove more barriers between them. The new tie-in allows users to browse their documents in Box, load them directly into Office Online, and save any edits straight back to Box. That way, users do not have to juggle multiple applications or deal with downloading and re-uploading files.
The integration is available free for Box personal users, and with an Office 365 license for Box business customers. Likewise, Office Online is free for personal use, but requires an Office 365 subscription for business users.
This is not the first time Box has hooked up with Office. Users can also add Box as a storage location in the desktop and iOS versions of Microsoft's productivity suite, providing easy access to online files.
However, the Box tie-in is not quite the same as the partnership between Microsoft and Dropbox, which lets users open Dropbox files directly from Office Online's file menu. With Box, you still have to use Box's website as a starting point. That might not be an issue for businesses that use Box as their central collaboration platform, though it is less ideal if you are just looking to edit and save individual documents for personal use.
Why this matters: Slowly but surely, Microsoft is turning third-party cloud storage support into a key feature for Office, at least on the web, where the connections between these services can seem limited. Neither Dropbox nor Box allows you to open documents in Apple's iWork suite from their websites. While Box lets you create documents in Google Docs, there is no built-in way to open Office files in Google's editing suite. By comparison, Microsoft is fashioning itself as the default document editing option, regardless of whether you use Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive.
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