Microsoft Adds Some Azure RMS Capabilities to Office for iOS

Microsoft recently updated its iOS-based Office apps to enable users to view protected files on their iPhone and iPad devices.

Users of Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps designed for the iPad and iPhone can now view documents that have been protected using Microsoft's Azure Rights Management Service (RMS), the company announced on Wednesday. Documents are displayed on iPhones and iPads with "with full file fidelity, retaining the same viewing rights permissions originally assigned to the document," the company said.

Microsoft's announcement came with some caveats, however. While the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps are now equipped with the new capability, the Outlook for iOS app will not receive it until the fourth quarter. In addition, the capability is currently limited to viewing rights-protected documents, not creating or editing them. A "later release" will add the ability to create, edit and publish Azure RMS-protected files from within the iOS apps, according to Microsoft.

First released in late 2013, Azure RMS lets administrators set rules that control the security of individual files and e-mails before they get shared between users and across networks. According to Microsoft's description, Azure RMS "uses encryption, identity, and authorization policies to help secure your files and email, and it works across multiple devices -- phones, tablets, and PCs. Information can be protected both within your organization and outside your organization because that protection remains with the data, even when it leaves your organization's boundaries."

Office 2016, currently in preview, will include support for Azure RMS when it reaches general availability later this year, Microsoft said. In addition, Office Universal apps designed to work with the forthcoming Windows 10 Enterprise operating system will support Azure RMS.

Microsoft plans to expand Azure RMS support to other platforms, as well. Azure RMS support already comes pre-included in the recently released Office 2016 for Mac product, for instance. Office for Android apps, including Outlook for Android, will receive Azure RMS support sometime in Q4, Microsoft said.

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