Dear iPad & iPhone users: in case you like Microsoft Office in lieu of Apple's iWork suite, but you require to back up your files to Apple's iCloud, Microsoft made that feasible for you.

In addition to letting you use iCloud or Dropbox (by a partnership announced in November) or Microsoft's own cloud storage, OneDrive, to store & share files, Microsoft has opened up its platform to any cloud storage provider.

Office users basically select 'iCloud" from the Locations picker menu within Office, Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer announced in a post on the Office Weblog.
& finally, they are going to make use of the "Locations" picker to be able to select other clouds, as well.
iCloud storage for Microsoft OfficeMicrosoftiCloud storage for Microsoft Office
Given that there's billions of Microsoft Office files out there, stashed all over the limitless number of cloud storage providers, we are guessing that lots of these providers are going to take Microsoft up on the offer.

But wait, there is more.
Microsoft also announced a plan that will let any cloud application company add Microsoft's freebie online version of Office, known as Office Online, to their sites. That means that any online app that would like to work with Microsoft Office can be set up so that you can open & do light editing of these files, by a browser, without leaving their cloud storage app.

Box, Citrix, & Salesforce are already working on this as a part of Microsoft's new Cloud Storage Partner Program.
Microsoft Office Online

How Microsoft Office Online looks when embedded to a web-site
This is the first fruit of a bury-the-hatchet partnership between Salesforce & Microsoft signed last May, a few months after Satay Nadella took over as CEO. Before that partnership, these were immense rivals.

While this new cloud-picking feature looks as if little potatoes, it is fascinating for numerous reasons.
First, it is a smack-down on Google. As they reported, Google has a plan to grab 80% of Microsoft's Office users. part of that plan is to treat Office documents like "first-class citizens," Amit Singh, president of Google for Work told us.

But Google's plan does not mean that when you open an Office document from Google Drive, it opens in Microsoft Office. The file opens in Google Appd, but with formatting more-or-less intact by an Office-compatible editor, QuickOffice, that Google bought a few years ago.

If Google desired to let Drive users open apps in Office Online, it could. They won't hold our breath for that, though. Google is proud of the collaboration features in Apps, & wishes to encourage people to make use of its own program, not give them an escape route back to Microsoft.

This move by Microsoft is & a smack-down on Apple.
attached imageMaria Elena via FlickrOffice for iPad
 On Friday, Apple fired a shot at Microsoft Office. For the first time, it is allowing individuals who do not own Apple devices to sign up for an Apple ID and use that ID to access a freebie cloud version of its Microsoft Office alternative, iWork. Anyone, on any tool, can use now use iWork by web browser.

And a third reason this is fascinating is because, oddly , Windows users don't yet have the choice to select iCloud or other cloud providers. Microsoft says it is currently working on adding these cloud options to Android, like, earlier this month, Android users got the choice to make use of Dropbox.

That means, for the first time in its history, Microsoft is now piling on features for non-Windows users, months to years before they are available to Windows users. For example, Microsoft still doesn't have a touch-friendly version of Office for Windows, although the touch-friendly Office for iPad is now about a year elderly. (The full-featured, touch-friendly Microsoft Office is coming with Windows ten, Microsoft's next version of Windows, expected to be out late this year.)

Microsoft used to treat Apple's platforms as second-class citizens, releasing features first for Windows, with Mac users waiting months to years to get the same.
Now, the reverse is true, at least when it comes to the iPad.

And that is so smart. Because, if businesses don't rush to Windows ten tablets and in lieu stick with Windows 7 for years for their PCs (like they did with XP), while purchasing iPads for their tablet needs, Microsoft still wins — it will still keep them as Office customers

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