New SkyDrive Features Launch from Microsoft

Mike Halsey MVP
Nov 29, 2011

Microsoft have today announced that new features are rolling out to users of its SkyDrive service.  There's no wait for the new features either as they're going to start rolling out immediately.  SkyDrive has come under extensive criticism in recent months for limiting the sync storage that Windows Live Mesh (and Windows 8) can use to just 5Gb of the full 25Gb available free to users.

Sadly the new update doesn't address this, but the new features are indeed useful.  Firstly comes new options for sharing files.  Previously you've had to create permissions on a file or folder giving explicit permissions for sharing.  Now however you can share documents more easily, and even from within Microsoft's Web Apps directly by just typing in either the emails addresses for people you want to share it with, or selecting their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profiles.  If neither of those suit you, the other option is simply to grab a link for the file that you can send on.  If you want to you can also post files and documents to Facebook or Twitter; though you should perhaps be careful how you use this feature!

Folder management is also being improved with support for creation of inline folders and with improved moving, deletion and download support, things that have always caused problems.  You can now perform these actions on a simple right-click, just as you would in Windows.

For people using the latest HTML5 compatible browsers there are also additional features such as improved drag and drop file addition and improved photo slideshows.

These have also been improved with support for RAW files, something Microsoft have been working on for a while and briefed me on about six months ago.  This will be a very welcome addition for serious photographers.

On the document front there is improved support for PDF files with better viewing of the files directly within the browser or, if you are using a browser that doesn't have the Adobe PDF viewer installed, the most appropriate software on your computer or device.

Microsoft say of these new features...

In addition to some of the sharing and file management features, we continue to look for ways we can take advantage of modern browsing technologies. Today we rely on Silverlight to provide rich upload support. In this release, we’re introducing drag and drop as a way to upload files and photos for browsers that support HTML5 File API like Internet Explorer 10, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. And while your files are uploading, you can continue to browse and use SkyDrive. You no longer have to sit and wait for uploads to complete.

Microsoft say int heir blog post that they've improved many things about SkyDrive including the sign-in time and general actions.  Their aim is to make is simpler and quicker to use generally.

There are other rumours about new features that may be coming to Skydrive.  One of the most interesting and useful is that the service could be used to host email attachments for people using Hotmail.  This means the attachment would never be stored in the email itself but would instead be stored online.  For people like myself with ever-expanding lists of emails going back many years this will be a very welcome addition indeed.

Overall the features are welcome and generally excellent, but they're only a stepping stone to the service users have been calling for, and they don't address many of the more important criticisms.  Microsoft will be continually improving SkyDrive and we can expect more Windows 8-centric changes to be made in the run up to the new operating system's release next year.


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