Two days ago, Microsoft dropped a bomb on the cloud industry by announcing that they were partnering with Dropbox (which you can read the press release here) to allow Office customers to save their files to their Dropbox accounts in addition to their OneDrive accounts, whether that be through Windows, the iPad, or Office Online. Many in the Microsoft camp, unsurprisingly, rejected the notion and wondered why Microsoft would partner with a rival cloud company. The answer is quite simple really: to sell more copies of Office 365 and to prevent customers from switching to solutions from Google.
OneDrive has now turned from a service to a feature
Ever since Microsoft began offering unlimited OneDrive to any Office 365 subscriber, they’ve changed the conversation about cloud storage. Prior to this announcement, OneDrive (and other cloud storage solutions) was seen as a service, as in a stand alone product that you would buy into. Now, the company has started to change the perception of cloud storage to more of a feature, as in something that just comes along with another purchase that you made. Amazon has already responded (albeit half-heartedly) to this with unlimited photo streaming storage, so this is clearly a shift that is happening.
By turning OneDrive into a feature, the company has also basically given up on the thought of gaining money from cloud storage. Now, they are using it as advertising. As a way to get people to think “hey, that’s pretty cool. Unlimited storage? Well, I’d sign up for that”, which just increases the number of people that are using a service that they actually want people to sign up for, Office 365.
Keep in mind that Microsoft had already basically done this months ago, they just called it 1 terabyte instead. Now, I realize that 1 terabyte isn’t technically “unlimited” but for most people, it basically might as well be unlimited. All this does is add buzzwords to the equation to make Office 365 even more of a no-brainer; an offer that you simply cannot refuse.
“Tech ‘journalists’: Satya, it’s too late for Microsoft Office
Satya: I’m gonna make them an offer they can’t refuse”
Dropbox integration costs Microsoft almost nothing, and may actually make them more money
As much as Microsoft fans, myself included, enjoys OneDrive and all of the storage that comes with it, it’s important to keep in mind that we are the minority of consumers. The majority (although not a landslide by any means) are using Dropbox. Not necessarily because it’s better, but because they were the first to market and established themselves. They also have some features that OneDrive is lacking, although they will get there.
While Microsoft likes to throw around numbers that make it appear that they are the #1 in cloud storage, it is most likely that those are people who have automatic upload on their photos and don’t use it day to day. Think about it, how many apps do you know that integrate OneDrive compared to the number that integrate Dropbox? That should be the most obvious clue.
That’s not to diminish the awesomeness of OneDrive. Many of us at Microsoft Product Reviews use it all of the time, but it is important to note these facts as it shows where the market is, and what people in general expect when they want to back up files to the cloud. By giving customers the option to use their preferred cloud storage option, Microsoft has a win-win scenario on their hands. Not only does Microsoft get to advertise that Office 365 has offered people unlimited storage for all of their files, if someone chose to eschew OneDrive (for whatever reason that may be), Microsoft gets the advertising without the cost of actually being the one who has to host your storage. As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft no longer sees OneDrive as a way to directly make money, they don’t need you to store your stuff in their particular cloud solution, they just want you to see it as a reason to buy into Office 365.
… and yes, it will eventually support Google Drive too
Look, I’m just going to be blunt and say it: Google’s dreams at productivity software are over. They’ve lost. Microsoft already has the lion’s share of productivity software on desktop and now that they’ve made Office essentially free on mobile, Google now effectively has no advantage. Before they were seen as the solutions that was “good enough” and “at least it’s free”, but now they have almost nothing.
One of the worries that Microsoft (and Dropbox to an extent) had was that since people stored their files in one company’s cloud while using the productivity software of another, that some people might just eschew both solutions in favor of a vertically integrated service such as Google Docs and Google Drive. Sure, a lot of those people might’ve gone to OneDrive, but this deal makes it so most, if not all, of these people would stay with Office.
Think about this: if you know that Word is better than Google Docs, yet both of them can save to your preferred cloud storage option, why wouldn’t you choose Word? It’s clear that unless Google can pull some Hail Mary pass, then they have no future in productivity.
What do you guys think? Does this make Office even more of a no-brainer for you? Let us know in the comments.