Microsoft recently announced a series of enhancements to SkyDrive, their web-based cloud file storage service. This is another step in the right direction for Microsoft as they try to gain market share in the cloud-based file storage and web applications arena. Some of the recent improvements announced include:
Better sharing capabilities:
This is one area that was always a little clunky for SkyDrive. Before, you were forced to place the files you wish to share within a folder that was “shared” and open for public viewing. In addition, it was difficult for users to share files with other people who were outside of the Microsoft ecosystem.
With the new improvements, both of these issues are addressed by allowing files to be shared individually from any folder (instead of only from a “shared” folder) and with other users through several different methods (email, links, and social networks). As stated on their blog, Microsoft is hoping to create a more “app-centric” experience.
More User Friendly File Management
File management in SkyDrive has not been their strong point. In comparison to other cloud-based services like Google Docs, Box, and Zoho, the SkyDrive user interface has been underwhelming. These most recent updates hope to address some of those issues.
Some of the added file management functionality include:
- The ability to change file and folder names inline
- Move, delete and download multiple files
- Move and Copy folders and files more easily
- The addition of right-click functionality for photos and documents
- Faster creation of Office Web Apps files.
Enhanced User Experience
In addition to the improvements to sharing and file management, Microsoft also made some additional changes to increase the overall speed and user experience for SkyDrive. Some of the other improvements include:
- Better browser support for FireFox, Chrome, and Safari
- Ability to read other file types (PDF, RAW, etc.)
- Enhanced photo editing
All of these improvements I think show that Microsoft recognizes that the future is in the cloud. Even with these improvements, I still think they have a way to go to catch up with other services like Box and Google.
The good news for them is that cloud-based file storage is still in its infancy and they stand to grab a huge market share of enterprise users who currently use products like SharePoint and Office. As businesses slowly move to the cloud, Microsoft will be in a position to gather a large portion of those customers that wish to keep continuity in their products.
We’ll be watching to see where SkyDrive end up in the cloud computing race.