SkyDrive : Microsoft Cloud Storage

SkyDrive or Windows Live SkyDrive is a service provided by Microsoft which allows users to upload, store and share their documents in cloud storage, free-of-cost. It was initially known as Windows Live Folders. As the storage of the documents takes place on the accessed through a Web browser. It is a part of Microsoft's Windows Live range of online services. 

Users need to have a Windows Live Id or a Hotmail Id to sign in to the SkyDrive and then on to control access to the files. Publicly-shared files, on the other hand do not require a Windows Live ID to access. SkyDrive offers 25 GB of free personal storage with individual files limited to 100 MB. The service is built using HTML5 technologies and for users’ ease, files can be uploaded via drag and drop. 

Timeline:

  1. Initial Launch – August, 2007
  2. Renamed to Windows Live SkyDrive – August 9, 2007
  3. Windows Live SkyDrive was available to 62 countries and regions – May 22, 2008
  4. The capacity of an individual SkyDrive account was upgraded from 5 GB to 25 – December 2, 2008
  5. Migration to Windows Live Office – June 2010
  6. Microsoft updated SkyDrive to make sharing and file management easier – Wave – November 29, 2011

SkyDrive Features:

  1. Office Web Apps: The Office Web Apps enable users to create, view and edit Microsoft Office word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents within the Web browser. In addition, Office Web Apps on SkyDrive also allow multiple users to simultaneously co-author Excel directly within the web browser, and co-author OneNote documents with another web user or the desktop application. Users can also view version history of Office documents stored on SkyDrive. 
  2. Bing integration: Windows Live SkyDrive integration with Bing's Save & Share feature allows users to save search histories into a SkyDrive folder.
  3. Windows Live Groups integration: Each group within Windows Live Groups is provided with 5 GB of storage spaces on SkyDrive to be shared between the group members. Group members are allowed to access, create, modify and delete files within the group's SkyDrive folders.
  4. RSS feeds: Subscription to RSS feeds of the content of public folders sends feeds which contain preview images of the added files—either a thumbnail of an image or an icon representing the file type apart from the links to the file download pages.
  5. Download as .zip file: Entire directories can be downloaded as a single .zip file with SkyDrive which enable offline storage and review. 

Comparison between SkyDrive and Google Docs:

Though Sky Drive and Google Docs are meant to be for the same purpose – storage of documents on the cloud for easy sharing and review or in other words for online collaboration, there are a few differences in the offering of the both. They are highlighted below:

 

Category

Sky Drive

Google Docs

1. Storage

It might change from 25 GB storage to unlimited.

1 GB of total storage capacity

2. File Types

Almost all formats can be uploaded and later used for editing

Uploads of almost every format is possible. Editing of only the following formats is possible: HTML, .txt, .doc .rtf, .odt, .xls, .csv, .ods, .tsv, .tsb, .ppt, and .pps.

3. Sharing

Allows users to control the access rights

Also, allows users to control the access rights

4. Collaboration

Earlier versions did not have real-time collaboration but the files had to be checked out before editing
 

Real-time editing is possible

5. Multiple Versions

Multiple Versions can be shared

Multiple Versions can be shared

6. Integration

Documents need to be downloaded before editing them (Microsoft Office must be installed for editing)

It is a complete package – all changes can be done online without requiring any other software

Conclusion:

Each software, Google Docs and Microsoft Live SkyDrive, has their own unique features but also both provide the basic features and are free. While Google Docs does not require any software to run and all the changes can be done online, the assumption that almost everyone has Microsoft Office installed, SkyDrive provides a wider range of functionalities to the user. The ability to create Workspaces in the SkyDrive is distinctly useful, but Google Docs has also come up with the feature of sharing tables and creation of folders. 

All in all, Microsoft Live SkyDrive is a brilliant offering which will enable people to upload documents online and then download them anytime, anywhere as and when required. What remains to be seen is whether its latest version, Wave 5 can compete for the market share that Google currently enjoys.