If Steve Jobs were still alive, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella would give him a kiss. Ok, maybe that’s going too far, but a hug or a warm handshake certainly isn’t. After all, that’s what Nadella offered Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff.

Today Microsoft announced that Office for iPad and iPhone — which have seen more than 80 million downloads to date — is also available for third-party storage providers via an open API. “We want Office to be the preferred way to work with documents no matter where they’re stored,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

Or as Damon Tompkins, corporate vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Microsoft partner Metavis recently explained in a blog post, Microsoft "plans to be the go-to for all you do, in other words, it wants to be your gateway to the cloud.”

Access from Anywhere

So it goes to follow that the Office team has built two new integrations to make it easy to access, edit and share files stored on cloud services like iCloud, Box, Citrix and Salesforce without having to leave the apps.

The first is a file picker integration for the iPad and iPhone. It allows third-party cloud storage providers to natively integrate into the “Locations” picker. Image

End users will be able to access, work with and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from these providers directly in the iOS apps. These same functionalities will later be extended to Android as well as the universal apps for Windows 10.

Box and Citrix ShareFile have already taken advantage of the iOS capability. They, together with Salesforce, are also initial members of Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Partner Program, which promises to make it possible for cloud services to integrate Office Online into their applications — enabling users to open, view and edit documents stored in those services in any web browser.

“This opens up exciting possibilities for ShareFile customers in the months to come,” said Aimee Catalano, Citrix’s vice president of Alliance Marketing.

Significant Step

Box CEO Aaron Levie took a longer view. “Microsoft’s productivity technologies are used by a billion people globally, and in nearly every enterprise — its influence on the industry cannot be understated,” he wrote in a blog post, adding that this news was an “an important step toward a more open future.”

As we’ve written before and will no doubt write again, Microsoft wants to be wherever its customers are, and that means being open to and playing nicely with many, many vendors.

Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Partner Program is available to other service providers as well. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License Title image by Jonathan Kos-Read.