Microsoft SkyDrive Will Stand Front And Centre In Windows 8

Up until now, Microsoft's SkyDrive has mostly been noteworthy for the staggering amount of free storage it offers to users (25GB) and little else. But with the introduction of Windows 8, it will acquire a whole new set of features, along with the new Metro UI, which they believe will make it much more integral to users.

The cosmetic makeover that SkyDrive will receive is the most immediate and noticeable change here. Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, Microsoft's SkyDrive bosses, say the goal was to make the UI fast and fluid, but most of all touch-friendly. But as you can also see, SkyDrive is much more visual now. That means thumbnails of photos and icons for app-specific documents whenever possible, and ultimately, it means a more inviting UI for less-advanced users.

The bigger change, however, lies under the surface. SkyDrive will seamlessly integrate with every Metro app via Windows 8's file picker. In theory, saving things do and from SkyDrive will be as easy as saving locally in the Metro/WinRT environment. And if you're trying to do something like email an attachment that's already on SkyDrive, you'll be able to include a link to the file in your message instead of uploading and sending the whole file.

The more traditional desktop functionality currently found in SkyDrive will also remain, which means folders that automatically sync and being able to use Windows Explorer to cut through swaths of files. But a there are two big improvements: the first is that SkyDrive will be supporting files that are up to 2GB in size, which is awesome for those messing with video files, or trying to back up a rather large app. The second is that you will be able to connect your home computer to Skydrive and access it remotely from anywhere you have browser and an internet connection. With that functionality, you won't feel the need to upload every single file to the cloud, but rather you can add the ones you'll use most frequently for quicker downloads, but still know you can get to whatever you need at any time.

This makes SkyDrive a much different beast than iCloud. iCloud attempts to automate various backup processes and give you access to files expressly through apps (think iTunes in the Cloud or iWork). You can't view files using any sort of browser/explorer. But it will keep your calendar and email synced up, and all your smartphone settings backed up without you having to do a thing.

SkyDrive, on the other hand, is more concerned with making it easier to use the cloud like a local drive. A very visual and touch-friendly drive. And sure, Dropbox does some of the same things, but because Microsoft has their own operating system, the experience can be much more seamless than anything Dropbox might offer. Hopefully SkyDrive will be ready to go when the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Drops next week.


Comments

    SkyDrive is great. I cancelled my $6.95 a month box.net account once I started using it. MS need to promote themselves much better and a good makeover of SkyDrive is probably a reasonable start, as long as the let sheeple know about it.

      You can already use Windows Live Mesh with Skydive to gain remote access to a system through a browser. It works great; this update just seems to promote this functionality.

        i use windows live mesh, but that only gives you access to 5gb, not the 25gb on skydrive. can you connect it to skydrive?

        As scott said: Mesh needs to be properly integrated with Skydrive proper (currently it's treated as a "linked folder"), at which point it will totally kick arse.

        In Skydrive you can send links to files, permit editing etc.; in the Mesh "linked folder", all you can do is browse and download files ... not so good.

        Looking forward to the merging of Mesh with Skydrive proper ^_^

    25GB is great, combined with Drop Box and Google Documents I can keep most of my documents on the cloud. One question but- is there any chance of these services ever loosing data? I'd like to have the same files kept synchronised across all three services so if any two go down I still have a backup but I'm not sure if this is possible?

    I think the share via email or share via link things are something people haven't much thought about yet, but will be extremely useful going forwards.

    We've likely all had the unfortunate situation of wanting to send someone a 20MB file and only having email to do it with.
    We could use something like MegaUpload or Rapidshare to get the job done but that often required setting up accounts, showing the other person how to use it, dealing with speed caps etc.
    Now if I want to send someone something I'm working on, I can just do it.

      So you could say that....it just works?

      :)

      Really? That's the only way I've ever thought about using it. Backing up to the cloud is simply not an option for me. I work with video and animations, often in HD, that would eat up 100 times my monthly bandwidth if I was backing up on the cloud. Its much cheaper to buy USB HDDs to use for back-ups. And I can't hink of anything else I'd use the cloud for.

    Will it have an interface for iOS? I have been trying to find a solution recently for cloud storage for my home network and with multiple people, multiple portable devices (laptops (windows and apple) windows phone and iPhones) with 3 users sharing a single PC it's been a challenge to get it how I want.

    Been hanging for the Win 8 CP. I hope this is included, seems like a killer feature. Might even make Apple try harder again for iCloud. For the life of me I struggle to understand how no one has really nailed this yet.

      it's not perfect, but:

      http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/skydrive/id477537958?mt=8

      As mentioned above, Skydrive proper doesn't sync with a desktop through Mesh - yet. But you can create a Windows Live Group, and different members can access a shared SkyDrive.

    We've used Google Docs with their Syncdocs plugin instead of Skydrive. It works great, but Google is becoming evil, so switching back looks tempting.

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