Windows 8 & SkyDrive: Metro Style app, Desktop Integration, Remote File Fetching

Today’s announcement by Microsoft, is a huge step for personal cloud storage and SkyDrive. In a blog post today, Microsoft has provided an update how it envisages Windows 8 users wanting cloud storage as a drive, which would be available to them at all times, across all their devices, securely, for sharing their files and folders with people of their choosing.

At present Microsoft is providing personal cloud storage to 17 million active SkyDrive users, who currently store approximately 10 petabytes of data. Microsoft expects this figure to grow beyond what some of the largest providers support today, on the Internet. It is bringing SkyDrive and Mesh together into one service – evolving with Windows 8.

The present SkyDrive website, as we know it today, is going to evolve with Windows 8, into a true device cloud for Windows customers. And this is a huge step, as the users have been requesting this – and Microsoft has delivered.

The 3 main things that can be highlighted are:

  • SkyDrive will be a central part of Windows 8 with SkyDrive Metro Style App
  • SkyDrive to be integrated into Windows Explorer on the desktop
  • Ability to fetch remote files through SkyDrive.com

This Windows 8 team Blog post talks of these in detail, let us check the key items.

SkyDrive Metro Style App on Windows 8

This new SkyDrive app will be available with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (to be released on Feb 29th 2012). This app is built using modern web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. And with the recent updates to Skydrive.com site, the use of the same JSON APIs and JavaScript object model was also possible. This makes the SkyDrive browsing experience fast, fluid, quick and easy. And one of the most powerful feature in Windows 8 is the  ability to integrate SkyDrive functionality across other apps. SkyDrive is available from any Metro style app and the new Share Charm in Windows 8.

SkyDrive-folder

It will bring a file cloud to every Metro style app, allowing you to open files in your SkyDrive and save them right back to your SkyDrive just like you would on your local hard drive.

“This will work with any app that supports open and save for documents and photos, and will be the first time anything like this has been possible without any setup or configuration. All you need to do is register your email address on a PC that’s running Windows 8 and then, whenever you save files on SkyDrive, every Windows 8 device you use will provide seamless access to those files.”

“For app developers, this means that, so long as your app supports opening and saving documents and photos, it will automatically support SkyDrive without any additional work.”

SkyDrive will also be available via the Share charm, which allows you to send documents or photos through the Mail app on Windows 8. You will be able to choose to share files through SkyDrive instead of sending them as attachments,

SkyDrive-mail

SkyDrive on the desktop

Apart from SkyDrive app, the power of SkyDrive can be experienced on every Windows 8 desktop (And Windows Vista , Windows 7) through Windows Explorer, and to desktop apps like Office as well. This has been one of the most requested feature by Windows Users to integrate SkyDrive with Desktop and Microsoft has finally delivered it. The ease of drag-and-drop upload and download support for SkyDrive, anywhere access to your data, offline access, and the power of Windows Explorer to manage your files and folders, is going to be of great use.

This SkyDrive Desktop app will be available with an installer that’s less than 5MB. You’ll only need to only install it once per PC, as SkyDrive will always keep itself up-to-date. Once installed, your entire SkyDrive will start syncing into the folder you choose. Its been so designed that you won’t even notice its running – as it will be making very little use of CPU, for SkyDrive during idle time, as well as during the file transfer.

SkyDrive on the desktop will also run on Windows Vista and Windows 7.

And another big thing is the file limit for SkyDrive upload has been raised from 100MB to 2GB . So you can now upload large files up to 2GB! So who knows in future SkyDrive may even increase its Free capacity of 25GB.

SkyDrive on the desktop gives you a no-compromise cloud experience. The following image shows the SkyDrive folder in Windows Explorer

SkyDrive-explorer

Fetching remote files through SkyDrive.com

You can make use of your PC’s huge storage by accessing, browsing and streaming its files from anywhere using SkyDrive.com. Thus your PC itself is your private cloud. This new feature was provided, as many people would still have files on a remote PC, that weren’t available through SkyDrive. But with this feature you can now stream videos, or view photo albums from a remote PC, that is running SkyDrive on the desktop. And you also have an option to copy them to SkyDrive

This remote accessing a PC via SkyDrive can be vulnerable to attacks thus SkyDrive provided an extra layer of security requiring a second authentication. Thus to access the account, one requires to type a code sent to mobile or alternate email address. Trusted PCs don’t require this to be done.

SkyDrive SMS

So as you can see, Microsoft has taken a huge step in providing these features in personal Cloud Storage, making it a seamless experience in Windows 8. It will be possible to get the SkyDrive experience, on the go, with Windows Phone too.

Just wait for Windows 8 Consumer Preview to be released on 29th, to get this awesome experience of SkyDrive integration in Windows 8 or the Desktop integration on Windows Vista and Windows 7.

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The author has been a Microsoft MVP awardee in various Windows categories (2006-2016) and currently a Windows Insider MVP. A Technology Enthusiast, interested in anything technical and is committed to Microsoft technologies and products. He is actively associated with various Microsoft online communities, forums, Newsgroups and has been actively involved in Beta testing various Microsoft products and bug submissions.