Move over Microsoft, Dropbox wants to wear the collaboration hat. The online storage service has added a badge inside Microsoft Office documents that shows who else is viewing or editing the file, among other things.
The Dropbox badge also lets you check for a more recent version of the document and update with one click. A user can also use the badge to generate a link to share the document.
All this information is displayed without leaving the document itself. The badge is compatible with Word, Excel and Powerpoint files.
Dropbox has been running an open beta for 13,000 users, a third of whom have used the badge to collaborate with co-workers. Dropbox claims its customers found the badge made it easy to see who was working on what.
The badge displays a small photo of any user who is currently viewing the same document. The badge turns red if that user makes a change to the document, indicating that it needs to be refreshed.
Dropbox has posted a video demonstrating how the badge functions.
The move is an interesting one as it clearly steps onto Microsoft’s turf. The features in the Dropbox badge are all replicated by Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite, Office 365. The suite also shows you when others are editing the same file and automatically updates versions.
The crossover is even more obvious with the upcoming release of in-document commenting which will be released by Dropbox next week.
Comments can be added to any shared link or file stored in Dropbox, although they must be viewed directly from dropbox.com or on the iOS app (update arriving soon for Android). Anyone with access to the link can comment, making it easier to work alongside external clients, freelancers, and vendors.
Users can direct comments to specific collaborators by @mentioning them, although they need to know their email address. Once added other users will receive receive email and mobile notifications.
“With comments, you can easily keep discussions together with shared files — no more searching through emails to find the latest round of feedback on a presentation or the updated image your design team sent over,” Dropbox said in its company blog. “It’s a quick way to call out comments that specific people need to be aware of or take action on.”
If you’re interested in trying out the commenting you can sign up here.