Cloud

Dropbox takes on Google Drive with collaboration tools for MS Office

Image Credit: Kia Kokalitcheva

Dropbox may have “started with the shared folder,” to use chief executive Drew Houston’s words, but the company has since expanded into enterprise-focused offerings and an even more streamlined consumer version.

Both versions long depended on uploading and downloading primarily Microsoft Office documents.

But it has entered a new chapter, dubbed Project Harmony: a Dropbox layer on top of Microsoft Office that enables people to collaborate in real time when working with Office files in their Dropbox folders.

For example, when two people are collaborating on, say, a PowerPoint slide deck, they can both download the file, see in real time when the other person has made a change, and see the change. Little “chat heads” even appear in the corner, so one can keep track of the collaboration activity.

Sound familiar?

It should, because it looks like Dropbox might be taking on Google Drive’s collaborative features — and it’s something it really should have done a few years ago, if we’re being honest.

With that said, Google Drive might not actually be Dropbox’s target here — it’s not creating its own document format as Google Drive did.

Dropbox is probably recognizing that Microsoft Office isn’t exactly going away, or at least not in the corporate world, and working on top of it is a safer bet.

Competitor Box was also thought to be taking on Google Drive when it announced the release of Box Notes last September, though that might well have been just a user-acquisition tactic, as we previously noted.

Also important to note is that Dropbox achieved that engineering feat without a superstar on its team. Box nabbed Sam Schillace, the man behind Google Docs, so Box Notes was much easier to create with him on board.

Dropbox is still working on Harmony and figuring out how it will integrate it into its current suite of offerings, so representatives had no pricing tiers or business model information to share with VentureBeat. The company does expect to eventually roll it out first to some current enterprise customers for further testing before rolling it out more widely.

And in slightly less exciting but long awaited news, Dropbox is now making Dropbox for Business available to everyone (meaning, to all existing and new enterprise customers), enabling users to access their separate personal and work accounts from the same device, and new administrator control features for company accounts, namely remote wiping, account transferring, and sharing audit logs.

These features, however, will not impact the pricing tiers nor be available to personal account holders.

More about the companies and people from this article:

Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Dropbox is San Francisco-based tech company focused on making it easier for people to access and share their stuff. We strive to build a simple experience across desktops, browsers, smartphones, tablets, and more, while reliably proces... read more »

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