Skydrive Receives Improvements

Along with a new limit to the amount of free storage space provided, Microsoft on Monday announced improvements to SkyDrive

SkyDrive is Microsoft's cloud-based storage service that's been around since 2007. It's free to use and offers a maximum of 25 GB of space to store photos, files and Office documents. Now Microsoft is saying that it has cut down that free 25 GB of storage space, reducing it to 7 GB.

Currently registered SkyDrive users can still keep their 25 GB of storage space if they "go to their SkyDrive page and choose Upgrade my Storage," according to Microsoft's explanation here. This upgrade offer is described as a "limited time loyalty offer," but no deadline for upgrading is presently listed. Users have to have uploaded files to SkyDrive before April 22, 2012 to qualify to get the 25 GB upgrade.

Microsoft claims that the new 7 GB limit on free storage space on SkyDrive was determined based on the behavior of 99.94 percent of SkyDrive users. For those users who already had more than 7 GB of data on SkyDrive (0.06 percent), Microsoft has already upped their storage space to 25 GB.

New to SkyDrive this week is the ability to have storage capacities greater than 25 GB, but the extra capacities now come at a price. Having 20 GB of storage now costs $10 per year. To get 50 GB of storage, the price is $25 per year. Finally, a maximum of 100 GB of storage is possible at $50 per year.

It's certainly high-priced storage compared with buying a portable USB drive, but the advantage of Microsoft's cloud-based storage service is that it allows anywhere access from various devices, rather than having to lug around a storage drive. Meanwhile, Google today announced its pricing scheme for its SkyDrive competitor.

Google Ups the Game
With impeccable timing, Google on Tuesday announced Google Drive, a new cloud storage service for the PC, Mac or Android devices that comes with Google Docs and document collaboration features. Google Drive is available free with 5 GB of storage. For those wanting more, 25 GB of storage can be had for $2.49 per month or 100 GB of storage for $4.99 per month. The upper limit now appears to be 1 TB of storage at $49.99 per month.

Those who upgrade their Google Drive accounts by adding extra storage also get expanded Gmail storage by 25 GB. In addition to working with a PC or Mac, Google Drive is available as a Drive app for an Android-based tablet or smartphone. Support for the iPhone and iPad is currently under development. Google Drive is available here (requires account sign-in).

Other New SkyDrive Capabilities
Microsoft's SkyDrive also was upgraded this week to permit the uploading of larger files. Users can now upload a file that is as large as 2 GB. In addition, folders now can be uploaded using the service. (If there's a limit on file size uploads with Google Drive, it isn't listed, although Google lists the file size limits for Google Docs here.)

Microsoft already released a SkyDrive app for Windows Phone and the iPhone back in December. A new addition is SkyDrive for the iPad, which supports Apple's "retina" display. Microsoft also enabled the Mac file system, or "Finder," to work with SkyDrive files. While Office for Mac 2011 already supported SkyDrive, it now can use the Finder to save files to SkyDrive or open them from there.

Microsoft on Monday announced two new "previews" of SkyDrive that improve file handling from the desktop. One is the SkyDrive for OS X Lion preview, which allows users to handle SkyDrive files using the Mac Finder. The other is the SkyDrive for Windows preview, which adds the capability to use the Windows Explorer file management system with SkyDrive-stored files.

The SkyDrive for Windows preview requires the use of a "special folder," which will sync up with SkyDrive, according to Microsoft's announcement. The synchronization is such that any changes made on one side, such as deleting or moving files, will be reflected on the other side "immediately," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft contrasted this sync approach with its own Windows Live Mesh synced storage service. The capabilities between SkyDrive and Windows Live Mesh are now nearly the same, although Live Mesh users can sync Internet Explorer settings. Microsoft explains here that SkyDrive doesn't have that capability, although it is available with the Windows 8 consumer preview.

Here are Microsoft's links for getting the new SkyDrive previews, as well as the SkyDrive apps:

The SkyDrive for Windows preview works with Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista and is supported for 106 languages.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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