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Microsoft Offers iCloud Support For Office Services

Microsoft rolls out support services for Apple's cloud platform, iCloud, signaling the company's new openness to other cloud service platforms.

Microsoft Tuesday unveiled the integration of its Office apps with Apple's cloud platform, iCloud, signaling the company's push to accept various cloud platforms for its services.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company said Microsoft Office app users with iOS 8 will be able to edit and back up their files to iCloud, for services such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The move signals Microsoft's new openness to platforms other than its cloud service, OneCloud, and a general push to integrate services onto the cloud, said partners.

[Related: Microsoft Partners 'Excited' Over Microsoft-Dropbox Partnership]

"Microsoft continues to surprise me," said Michael Oh, founder of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple partner. "It pivoted from a closed architecture-based world over the last year to leveraging hooks in outside services. It says that Microsoft is open to all players ... ultimately, it’s a smart move. Giving people the ability to offer documents in general from iCloud opens another door and makes Office apps really useful for Mac users, so I think it’s a great move."

Microsoft has been steadily pushing its services into the cloud, a move encapsulated through its Cloud Storage Partner Program, which integrates cloud storage vendors with Office apps.

Microsoft in November unveiled a similar partnership with Dropbox, allowing mobile users on the iPad, iPhone and Android-based smartphones and tablets to access Dropbox from Office mobile apps and edit Office filed directly from Dropbox.

"Living in a cloud-first, mobile-first world is all about having the flexibility to get things done from anywhere and on any device," Kirk Koenigbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, wrote in a blog post. "And these exciting, new features will make it easier than ever to use Office with virtually any combination of apps, platforms and cloud storage services."

The partner program also allows third-party services to integrate their browser-based apps with Office Online, the online versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote.

For solution providers like Oh, Microsoft's coupling with Apple means a wider app ecosystem and a more substantive iCloud productivity space.

"Microsoft is one of the first players in the productivity space that has implemented iCloud API on the app for storage use. This is important because I haven't seen as many productivity apps in the iCloud as there should be," said Oh. "For partners in the business world, this is a very positive thing. The wider the app ecosystem gets, the easier our job is to show people how our services are relevant."

According to Koenigbauer, Microsoft will continue to expand its app integration onto various cloud platforms through Windows 10 and Office for Android apps at an unspecified future date.

PUBLISHED FEB. 17, 2015

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