Cloud storage solution SkyDrive is getting additional functionality. Microsoft is banking on the service becoming the primary storage method for those who are part of the company's ecosystem. The software giant has made SkyDrive a focus in both Windows 8 and Office 2013 / 365 Home Premium.
Microsoft's Omar Shahine announces that "starting today and rolling out over the next 48 hours, we're making it easier for you to see all of your photos in SkyDrive across all your albums and folders based on a timeline view". With timeline view you will be able to scroll down to navigate through all of the images. They are organized into groups by event and time.
Late yesterday, Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 users from all over the world can now finally take advantage of the complete photo and video backup feature offered by its smartphone operating system. This comes a tad over six months after the Windows Phone 8 release in late-October, last year. A little too late, wouldn't you agree?
Previously, users from a number of regions were constricted to use a dumbed-down backup feature that only allowed automatically upload of low-resolution pictures (no video support) straight to SkyDrive. "We just started to light this up, so be patient if you don’t see it right away. The change could take a few days to roll out around the globe", Aaron Sauvé, Microsoft senior program manager says.
SkyDrive has been around since 2007, so perhaps there is no surprise that the cloud storage service has a large number of users. Combine its venerability with the fact the service is now rolled into Windows 8 and Office 2013, and you have a recipe for success. That is exactly what Microsoft reports today.
Microsoft's Mike Torres, group program manager for SkyDrive apps, says "the service continues to grow: since October 2012 when Windows 8 launched, 50 million more people have started using SkyDrive, helping us reach an important milestone -- over 250 million people are now using SkyDrive as the new place to save their files".
One way to gain loads of free online storage space is to mix and match storage providers, taking advantage of each to quickly build up tens of gigabytes of cloud-based storage for backup, sync and sharing purposes. The downside of such an approach is the fact you need to manage each provider using its own dedicated app.
Nowhere is this frustration more evident than when using a tablet or phone to access your data, as you have to switch between apps to try and locate where you’ve stored a particular file. But help may be hand in the form of an app for Windows 8, iPad and Android calledRainbowDrive 2.0.0 that attempts to bring multiple providers together under one roof.
Over weekend Microsoft's next version of Windows, known by code name "Blue" leaked out to the world via BiTorrent. Over the past two days we dissected the operating system in every way possible from first look to screenshot images to ways to install the still buggy operating system.
Now that the initial euphoria has passed, we can settle down and get a good look at what exactly will change in the operating system later this year when Windows Blue is rumored to be released.
Cloud storage providers Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive have both released minor maintenance updates for their desktop applications. Both Dropbox 2.0.2 and the Windows version of Microsoft SkyDrive 2013 v17.0.2006.0314 are minor maintenance releases with no new features.
Both updates are the first since major releases -- Dropbox 2.0introduced a new sharing-friendly user interface, while SkyDrive 17.0 allowed users to selectively sync folders and sub-folders to specific devices.
There are plenty of benefits of living in the cloud, but some major downsides too. Nearly five months ago an Amazon Cloud outage took down BetaNews' group chat service, alongside Heroku, Flipboard, Foursquare and Reddit among others. And, two days ago, Microsoft users went through a similar ordeal which mostly affected Hotmail, Outlook.com and SkyDrive -- three of Microsoft's more essential cloud services.
Microsoft's vice president, Arthur de Haan, has chimed in on the matter in a blog post which links the outage to the upgrade process from Hotmail to the new out-of-beta email service Outlook.com. Since 13:35 PM PDT on March 12 until 5:43 AM PDT on March 13, de Haan says that "a small part of the SkyDrive service, but primarily Hotmail.com and Outlook.com" suffered from a service interruption caused by a firmware update which failed "in an unexpected way".
Microsoft announced the new Office 2013 / Office 365 release on January 29th and the new suite, no matter which version of it you choose, comes with tight integration with the company's cloud storage service, SkyDrive. You do not have to use it -- you can still store your files locally, but it makes for easier work when a document can easily be accessed from everywhere and shared with co-workers.
However, apparently a lot of people are taking advantage of the feature, because today Microsoft's Sarah Filman, lead program manager for SkyDrive, announces that the service now stores a lot of files -- "Recently we reached a big milestone; our customers are now storing over a billion Office documents on SkyDrive".
Perhaps it is just me, but Microsoft's decision to take Live Mesh off of life-support has hit especially hard. We knew this was coming of course, but still, I like having my files synced between multiple computers and, while I love SkyDrive, I do not need the cloud as an intermediary within my own home -- that is ridiculous overkill and would cost me money as well.
Today the company dispatched email reminders that began "Dear Mesh customer, Recently we released the latest version of SkyDrive, which you can use to..." Yes, thanks a lot. I know what I can use it for, but syncing between computers in my home is not something I should be compelled to use it for.
Late this afternoon, Microsoft answered a question oft-asked by investors this month: What's up with Windows 8? The new operating system, which launched October 26, was supposed to lift sagging PC sales and demonstrate the capability to successfully compete with so-called post-PC platforms like Android and iOS. Now we know more. Windows & Windows Live revenue passed Business, making the OS division most-valuable again.
For fiscal second quarter, ended December 31, Microsoft revenue was $21.46 billion, up 3 percent year over year. Operating income: $7.77 billion, a 3 percent decrease. Net income was $6.38 billion, or 76 cents a share.
Windows 8's new Start screen evokes many emotions from customers, with most falling on either the love or hate side with almost no middle ground. However, one thing that can be agreed on is that the screen has no shortage of information. Users are bombarded with messages from Facebook, email, weather and countless other endlessly updating tiles. Now Microsoft has added one more to the perhaps overloaded mix.
Today the company announced it is pushing an update to the SkyDrive app for Windows 8 that will bring the live tile features to the cloud storage and sharing platform.
Just because Microsoft is not in Las Vegas -- other than a cameo appearance by CEO Steve Ballmer last night...oh, and all of its software, which is powering many of the gadgets you see at the Consumer Electronics Show -- the company is not standing still, today announcing updates to cloud storage service SkyDrive.
That is important because all of those Windows 8 computers and tablets, and even the Windows Phone 8 devices that are being displayed in Sin City can utilize SkyDrive for storage. In fact, the upcoming Office 2013 will do so as well. That means the company's cloud needs features to get customers interested.
Microsoft has announced the availability of a SkyDrive app for Xbox 360 consoles, giving users the ability to display content stored in the cloud service on any connected TV or monitor.
The Xbox 360 is designed as a content consuming device, and the SkyDrive experience on the console reflects this. According to the software giant, the app focuses on photo and video sharing, as well as playing slide shows, with no mention of productivity. It's fair to assume that Microsoft plans to keep the content editing features for newer devices running Windows Phone or Windows 8/RT.
Microsoft has clearly begun to focus more heavily on the cloud for both businesses and consumers. The company has integrated Skydrive into both Windows 8 and Office 2013, and even some recently announced SharePoint features included SkyDrive integration into the social and collaboration app for business. Now, today, it has rolled out two more improvements to the cloud storage service.
Along with the brand new features that were rolled out today, Microsoft's Mike Torres, Group Program Manager for SkyDrive apps, couldn't help tooting the company's own horn a bit by trumpeting that SkyDrive has doubled in usage -- "in the last 6 months, you have doubled the amount of SkyDrive storage being used." This is too vague to indicate any real numbers of storage or users so that will remain open to interpretation for now.
Without a shadow of a doubt Windows 8 is a game changer for Microsoft. It's the operating system designed to take the company into a new computing era where the personal computer is no longer the star of the show, but still plays an important role. Can the latest version of the popular operating system manage to shine against its predecessors on their home turf? And for that matter, should you upgrade?
Windows 8 is a mixed bag before its launch and generating quite strong impressions along the way since Microsoft released the final build to manufacturing. The main criticism: the new user interface formerly known as Metro and the steeper learning curve compared to Windows 8's predecessors; it's not as intuitive as well. That's what the critics say, but what's it like to actually live with Windows 8 for more than a brief period of time?