SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, is the first arrive even before Apple came out with iCloud or Google with Gdrive. However, does SkyDrive become an integral part of Microsoft’s operating system strategy only with Windows 8.
Windows 8 apps like Mail and Photos and even third-party apps will be able to save items to your SkyDrive cloud storage folders. Windows 8′s cloud services go beyond just SkyDrive storage.
Signing into a Microsoft account on different machines lets you “roam,” or sync, all your PC settings, such as the lock screen image, user photo, start screen “tattoos,” browser favorites and history, spell check dictionaries, Explorer settings, mouse settings, and accessibility settings. Not only can you sync these settings, but you’ll also be able to see in the Windows Store any apps you’ve installed on other PCs.
Everyone who’s created a Microsoft account, which includes everyone who’s signed up for a Hotmail or Outlook.com account gets a SkyDrive account.
All users get 7GB free, and, if you’re a longtime SkyDrive account holder, you get 25GB free. This compares with 5GB free for iCloud and Google Drive, and 2GB for Dropbox. You can add 20GB for $10 a year, and 100GB for $50, this compares with $60 for 100GB on Google Drive, and $100 for just 50GB on iCloud.
SkyDrive includes apps for not only Windows 7 and 8, but for Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and Web access.
SkyDrive is not just online storage, but also file and folder syncing. The clients available for SkyDrive allow you to place a photo, document, or other item in your cloud storage and have it available to any of your other SkyDrive clients on any of your other devices or computers.
You can’t designate any old folder you want to be synced, but only those under the SkyDrive main folder. However, Microsoft has made it possible for these synced folders to look less sequestered in the SkyDrive world, by using Windows’ Libraries.
The Windows 8 SkyDrive App
Windows 8 ships with a SkyDrive app that you can recognize by the cloud on its blue Start page tile. Clicking on this takes you into another grid of tiles, each representing a folder or file you’ve stored on the service. Folders containing image files will sport an image on their tile above the folder name, and with a right-click (or swipe in from the top or bottom edge on a touch screen) you can choose to view Details, which adds the item’s date and size, or stick with the thumbnail view.
The same applies if you’re inside a folder. For example, if you’re in an image folder, you’ll by default just see large thumbnails of the images. Hovering the cursor over a tile/thumbnail displays the filename, date last modified, file size, and who it’s shared with. When you invoke the app bar from the main screen (by right-clicking or swiping up from the bottom of a touchscreen), you’ll see just five buttons—Refresh, New Folder, Upload, Details, and Select all. This changes when you right click on a file tile, adding four new buttons on the left—Clear selection, Download, Delete, and Open with.