Welcome improvements to Microsoft SkyDrive

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Update: Microsoft SkyDrive has been replaced with Microsoft OneDrive. You can learn more about OneDrive here.


August 20th, 2012

Last week, August 14th, 2012, Microsoft introduced the updated version of SkyDrive, Microsoft’s free online storage service. In a blog post I wrote February 6th, 2012, I explained what SkyDrive is and how you can benefit from using it. Since then, Microsoft has worked hard to improve the SkyDrive offering in a number of different ways. In this blog post, I wanted to share with you some of the new useful services that have been added and the changes that have been made to the Microsoft SkyDrive offering.

1. New easier look and feel

Just like Hotmail, which has been given a proper facelift (and a new name: Outlook.com), the newly released SkyDrive has a new, modern look and feel. It follows the same design principles as Windows 8 and the Office 13 preview. The new design is much clearer – not at all as “messy” as SkyDrive used to be, so it makes the service much easier to use. The new design is also tailored for touch-screen devices so the experience is much better if you access SkyDrive from your iPad or your touch-screen tablet device.

The interface is less cluttered; menu options are only shown when you need them. So for instance, if you click on a folder, the menu changes so that you can see what options are available for you to perform with that folder.

The search functionality has been greatly improved so that you can quickly search for files (and the contents of your files). The sorting capabilities have also been improved so that it’s easier to sort files; this is especially useful when sorting pictures by date.

2. Easier to switch between your emails and your files

The integration with Outlook.com has been improved considerably and with the new service, it’s very easy to switch between your email, calendar, contacts and files. By just clicking on the drop-down arrow next to the “SkyDrive” logo you can go to your Outlook.com email (when I’m writing this, the calendar is still the “old” Hotmail calendar). This makes your SkyDrive files very accessible.

3. Uploading files is now a breeze

In addition to the web version of SkyDrive, you can download SkyDrive for Windows to your PC. This is a huge improvement when it comes to using this service. Instead of having to upload your files to SkyDrive via the browser, you can just save the files like you normally do on a folder on your PC and the files will automatically be synchronized for you – a great productivity improvement.

4. Easier access to SkyDrive from a range of different devices

In addition to having SkyDrive on your Windows PC, you can also download SkyDrive and use it on a range of different devices – your Windows Phone, your iPad, iPhone, your Mac and in a few weeks you will be able to download it to your Google Android device as well. This means that SkyDrive will be an attractive service even for users who are not exclusively using Microsoft platforms.

5. Reduced free storage

One of the downsides to the new service is that the amount of free storage you get has been decreased from 25 (GB) gigabytes to 7 (GB) gigabytes! You can still have more storage, but in order to do so, you have to upgrade and pay for the increased storage. The price isn’t overwhelming, but I have seen quite a lot of negative comments from SkyDrive users who have expressed their disappointment with the new pricing model.

What is my take on the new SkyDrive?

I primarily use SkyDrive for sharing photographs with friends and family, sharing documents and videos with my virtual assistant and in some cases, I use it to share documents with customers. For sharing documents with colleagues I use SharePoint in Microsoft Office 365.

I’m a huge fan of the new, updated SkyDrive service. It looks much more professional and I think it’s much easier to use. Being able to automatically synchronize files from my PC to SkyDrive is a huge time-saver for me. I also like having a local, offline copy of my files since I don’t always have Internet access. I also value the fact that I can access my files from a range of different devices. Now I don’t have to think about carrying my heavy laptop with me to meetings – I can access my files via my mobile, my iPad, or through any browser connected to the Internet.

I also wanted to bring up the concern many people have regarding privacy. Even though nothing has changed when it comes to privacy in this version of SkyDrive I wanted to highlight it as one of the factors I value. Microsoft guarantees that the information you upload to your SkyDrive account isn’t scanned and used for advertising purposes. Microsoft does use automated scanning software to scan accounts for illegal content (such as child pornography), but as long as you abide by the usage code of conduct you can rest assured that the information you upload is for your eyes only (or whomever you choose to share it with). This makes me feel more confident in using SkyDrive.

(If you have difficulties reading this article, you can access the full article in pdf here).