Taking a glimpse at the future of SkyDrive (from their blog post)

Over at the official Inside Windows Live team blog, Omar Shahine and Mike Torres, Group Program Managers for SkyDrive, recently made a blog post analysing some of the stats of the current competitive environment, outlining what they think are the “winning factors” for a personal cloud service, and what (a bad) situation SkyDrive is currently in. However, buried deep in the blog post we think the SkyDrive team is trying to actually set a stage hinting at what will be coming for SkyDrive. In the table below, we will analyse some of these “winning factors” that Omar and Mike talked about in the blog post, and how these translates to what Microsoft sees in the future of SkyDrive:

Winning Factors
What will this mean for SkyDrive?

Simple & secure
It would sync the files you have to the cloud and other devices. It would be simple enough to use to share files with anyone so you could finally stop emailing attachments. It would also protect your content using industry leading security measures. In short, you could trust it to “just work”.
The current Windows Live Mesh software, and the future Windows 8 SkyDrive sync feature, will allow users to sync files directly to the cloud and share them with others. But of course, the current situation with SkyDrive and “SkyDrive synced storage” for Windows Live Mesh doesn’t exactly make it simple for users. Will this change soon?

In addition, to stop people from emailing attachments, we know that the latest version of Hotmail already allow users to upload their documents and photos directly to SkyDrive, and share them with your email recipients. So nothing really surprising here.

Straightforward and flexible storage limits
It should provide a modest amount of free storage for key scenarios. It should actually make it easy for customers to use this storage – and provide options to purchase more if needed.
This gets a little bit interesting. We previously reported that SkyDrive might soon provide unlimited storage for photos and documents, and 25GB for everything else. I wouldn’t call this “modest amount”, but if true, this would really make SkyDrive one of the best cloud storage provider on the market.

In addition, we’ve also told you that purchasable storage plans are coming to SkyDrive soon.

Work across any device
It would be built with the understanding that we want to have our content available anywhere, even if we use devices made by different companies with different operating systems. This is how important services like Hotmail and Skype work, and personal cloud storage should be no different.
We’ve previously reported that the SkyDrive team is working on building client apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and of course Windows Phones. In addition to SkyDrive.com, this would make SkyDrive truly cross-browser and cross-platform, allowing you to access your SkyDrive files everywhere on any device.

Cloud-enable the entire PC
While it’s critical to support all types of devices, it’s particularly important to connect the billions of PCs in the world to the cloud. The PC is the most popular smart device and stores most of the world’s personal content. A cloud tailored for this device would provide access to all of your content from anywhere, with no complex setup or configuration.
With the upcoming Windows 8, all your favorite content — Photos, Music, Documents, Contacts, Calendar, Mail, apps and settings — will be synced via SkyDrive (if you choose to) and be able to be accessed anywhere. And best of all, this is built right in to Windows 8, so definitely no “complex setup” is required.

Work with key apps and services to let you organize, collaborate, and share in new ways
It would work seamlessly and automatically with leading email, productivity, or photo apps to let you organize, collaborate, and share content in entirely new ways. It would also connect with the services you already use for sharing so that you could upload once and share the way you want. It would do all of this while supporting the files you use today and keeping you in control of your content.
Microsoft Office 2010 already features SkyDrive integration, allowing you to save, open, share and collaborate on documents stored on the cloud.

With the upcoming SkyDrive APIs as part of Live Connect, any developers building apps – whether it be Windows 8 apps, Windows Phone apps, or web services – will be able to utilize SkyDrive for cloud storage to be used within their apps or websites.

Connects people, content, and devices at scale
In addition to having the right features, the scale of a cloud itself can provide value for customers. Sharing and collaborating is more convenient when more people can connect to a given cloud. Also, people benefit from a cloud that connects content to more apps, and app developers prefer to integrate with clouds that have the most content and connect the most devices.
After Windows 8 gets released in 2012, and if (and that’s a big if) app and web developers start taking advantage of the newly released SkyDrive APIs, Microsoft is hoping that it would push for a wider adoption for its SkyDrive service.

Given the competitive environment SkyDrive is in, and the team’s delayed realisation on the need to continuously improve and innovate the service, could Microsoft achieve the scale that they’re hoping for?

In addition to the “winning factors” Omar and Mike listed, their latest post also specifically points out several feedbacks and requests from consumers which they have heard “loud and clear”. The table below takes a look at these, and provides a quick analysis on what this means for the future of SkyDrive:

Feedbacks from consumers
What will this mean for SkyDrive?

Why are “synced storage” and “My Files” separated? I dream of a day when my docs & files can be together everywhere.
We previously reported that devices integration is coming to SkyDrive, and actually saw a demo at BUILD showing how you can directly access files on your PCs (and other devices?) from SkyDrive.com.

What we haven’t yet seen is the merging of SkyDrive’s storage space with Windows Live Mesh’s “synced storage”. If the SkyDrive team has heard this feedback loud and clear, does that mean it’s coming soon?

How do you move files or folders on SkyDrive?
Based on what we saw at BUILD, the upcoming update for SkyDrive will come with new right-click options, which presumably will make it easier to navigate and perform file operations on files and folders.

Why limit video size to 100MB when you give us 25GB of storage?
Microsoft just recently upgraded the individual file size limit from 50MB to 100MB, but this still pales in comparison to competitive services like Google Docs (10GB) and Dropbox (Unlimited via desktop app, 300MB via website).

Is this a hint that Microsoft will be increasing the individual file size limit again?

We need the ability to share individual files without sharing the entire folder.
The demo we saw at BUILD mentioned “simplified file sharing” is coming soon to the upcoming update for SkyDrive. Does that mean we can now choose to share individual files as well as entire folders too?

Please add check-boxes…so people can quickly [manage] content in batches, whether to delete, download or move the selection.
We’ve previously reported that check-boxes for multiple-file selections will be available in the upcoming SkyDrive update. And this was confirmed during the SkyDrive demo at BUILD.

With the recent rollout of the Hotmail update, we speculated a few weeks ago that Microsoft might be rolling out an update to its other Windows Live web services, including SkyDrive, very soon. Could Microsoft really transform SkyDrive into a winning product and achieve the scale they’re hoping for? Are we going to see all the improvements and features that we have hoped for? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the SkyDrive team will bring us.

Windows Live Service Status page gets an update, now tracking Live ID and Family Safety

As part of the latest SkyDrive update today, as we predicted earlier, the rest of Windows Live web services received an update too, up to Wave 5 M2 (version 16.2). As part of this update, Windows Live Service Status, the website that allow you to keep track of the current status of Windows Live services, received an updated too:

Windows Live Service Status

The update means that the service is now located at http://home.live.com/status, different from the previous status.live.com. Besides an URL change, the website itself also received some minor enhancements, now reporting real-time service status of Windows Live Family Safety and Windows Live ID as well. Given that Windows Live ID will become a core part of the upcoming Windows 8, it makes sense that this service needs to be monitored closely and provides the latest status info to its customers.

You can check out the new Windows Live Service Status website now at http://home.live.com/status.

Single-use Code in Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4

One of the features of the Wave 4 version of Windows Live Hotmail is the Single-use Code feature.

This is a code you can use in place of your password when your at a public place like an Internet Cafe or public library. Just one more step in helping to protect yourself from nasties that might be on those public machines.

Here is how you go about getting and using a single use code:

At the sign in page for your Windows Live Hotmail account you will notice a new entry below your email address and password Sign in with a Single-use code.

Click that link and you will then get the following dialog:

Click on the Request a code and that in turn will lead to this page:

You will need to set up your Windows Live ID account with your cell phone number for this to work. That is because you are sent the Single-use code via a text message. Make sure you do that now before you are out and about needing that Single-use code because you will not be able to get it any other way except via your cell phone.

Once you have the Single-use code just start with the sign in screen and this time you can enter your Windows Live ID and the Single-use code you received via text and then sign in safely and securely.

Microsoft’s Office Web Apps go Live

Anyone keeping up with Microsoft Office news in the past year knows about Office Web Apps. With Office 2010, Microsoft has promised the world a free version of its world dominating office productivity suite via the web browser. Unlike traditional versions of Office, Web Apps will live in the cloud and have limited functionality. As of yesterday, the new service has gone live to the public.

On the Windows Team Blog, Microsoft has officially launched Web Apps for everyone in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland. It is also accessible to other countries as well, just not yet in their native language. Web Apps is built around your personal SkyDrive, which gives you 25 GB of free online storage space for all of your documenting needs. With the desktop version of Office 2010, documents can also be saved to your SkyDrive, then revisited and shared online through your web browser. This makes accessing your personal files on-the-go a cinch. Web Apps also allows multiple people to collaborate on a single document simultaneously, while still maintaining a version history in case you ever need to go back in time. You can even view your saved documents on most smartphones.

At office.live.com, you are greeted with your typical Windows Live ID login screen. Once inside, you will see the ability to create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or OneNote notes. You can also upload existing files from your PC, making the move to SkyDrive an easy one. If using a Silverlight enabled browser, you will gain the additional ease of dragging and dropping your files directly from your PC into SkyDrive.

How To Move/Copy Files Between Folders In Windows Live SkyDrive

A recent visitor of this blog asked us to explain how to move files between folders in Windows Live SkyDrive, the popular free online storage service from Microsoft. Moving or copying files between two folders of Windows Live SkyDrive is very easy.

Here are the steps to be followed

1. Login to your Windows Live SkyDrive and choose the file you want to Move or Copy

WIndows_Live_Sky_Drive_Moving_Files_1

2. Click on the the option either Move or Copy depending on what on what operation you would like to do (I’m going to choose Move for illustrating screenshots in this article) . SkyDrive display all the folders available in your account

3. Select your destination folder by choosing one from the displayed list. SkyDrive shows you a confirmation screen.

WIndows_Live_Sky_Drive_Moving_Files_2

4. Confirm file movement operation by choosing the option “Move this file into Documents”

WIndows_Live_Sky_Drive_Moving_Files_3

5. Done. Your file is successfully moved to the target folder

Windows Live SkyDrive To Boost Free Online Storage Space to 25 GB.

windows-live-sky-drive

Windows Live SkyDrive, the free online storage service from Microsoft, has announced that the  storage capacity of each account is going to be increased to whooping 25GB from the existing 5GB limit. Wow! that is a lot of online storage space to keep all personal files and photos safely in the cloud.
Along with massive storage space SkyDrive is also going to introduce several new features

Compressed Downloads

We can download content of an entire folder as a compressed .zip file from SkyDrive. I love this feature as it saves lot of time and reduce broadband usage too. Initially this feature will be enabled for the users living in United States, Denmark, Ireland and after few months other users will also be allowed.

Move and Copy Files Between Folders

Today if you want to move a file from one folder to another folder, you have to download the files to your computer from the source folder and then upload them to the target folder. This is lot of time consuming process. To avoid this unnecessary data transfer, SkyDrive will allow users to Move and Copy files from one folder to another folder online.

Integration with Live Photo Gallery

You can download the pictures stored in SkyDrive directly to Windows Live Photo Gallery. Integrating Live products is a good sign to see from Microsoft.This is a good sign to see from Microsoft as they started integrating products one by one.