by Emily Price
Microsoft announced an update to its SkyDrive service Monday. Among other features, Microsoft integrated the drive into Windows Explorer and Apple’s Finder so the drive works as an extension of your desktop, and added the ability to access files stored on your drive from the iPad as well as the iPhone and Windows Phone.
Microsoft has been building SkyDrive alongside Windows 8, which is expected to launch later this year. The cloud-storage option lets you access your files on the go. Monday’s update expands on the functionality that was already present on the drive, making storing and accessing those files more seamless.
SkyDrive for Windows
In February, Microsoft announced a SkyDrive Metro-style app for Windows that allows you to fetch files from a connected PC. Monday’s SkyDrive update adds to that feature, allowing you to access your SkyDrive from Windows Explorer on Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Files up to 2GB in size can be dragged and dropped onto the drive, and are stored in a folder just like other files on your PC. The drive works as an extension of your existing hard drive, and any app that works with local folders on your computer will now also work with SkyDrive.
SkyDrive stays in Sync no matter where you access it. So, if you change a file name on your phone, the file will also be renamed on your computer. Likewise, if you delete a file from SkyDrive.com, the file will also disappear on your computer and smartphone.
SkyDrive.com lets you browse and stream videos from any connected PC, as long as that computer is connected to the web. So, if you wanted to show a co-worker a video from your recent vacation that was stored at home, you could access that file from your work computer via the SkyDrive website as long as your computer at home is connected to the web.
SkyDrive became available for Windows Phone and iPhone in December, and now Microsoft is also bringing the service to the iPad. Files can be moved, renamed and deleted remotely on the iPhone and iPad as well as Windows Phone. You can also see your remaining storage space, share with people, revoke their access or change their permissions from view-and-edit to view-only.
SkyDrive is also now available on Macs running OS X Lion. Much like you can on your PC, you can manage your SkyDrive offline using Finder on the Mac. Since SkyDrive is integrated with Finder, any Mac app that opens from or saves to the file system will also be able to access SkyDrive files.
Microsoft is offering 7GB of free storage for new SkyDrive users, a drop from the 25GB of free storage space it previously offered for free on the service.
If 7GB just isn’t enough for your needs, the company is also offering several paid storage options:
20GB for $10/year, 50GB for $25/year, and 100GB for $50 a year.
Those who already have SkyDrive accounts –and have uploaded a file before April 22 – will be able to keep their existing accounts and opt-in to continue to receive 25GB of storage for free. Those who have already uploaded 4GB of data prior to April 1 are automatically opted in.
There are quite a few cloud storage options currently available. Dropboxis currently the king in cloud storage scene, offering 2GB of storage for free, $50GB for $9.99/month, and 100GB for $19.99/month. Microsoft’s plans seriously undercut that pricing. Dropbox offers individual plans, however, up to 1000GB in size.
A lot of cloud storage attention has recently been on Google, who is rumored to be launching its own cloud-storage option – Google Drive – later this month. That service is rumored to give users 5GB of free storage, and be heavily integrated with if not replace Google Docs.