Microsoft Revamps SkyDrive, Pushing Consumer Cloud

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-11-30 Print this article Print

Microsoft has revamped its SkyDrive service as just one part of its continuing foray into the consumer cloud.

Microsoft has streamlined SkyDrive's ability to share and access Office documents, in yet another sign of the company's increasingly cloud-centric posture.

Under the new streamlined process, SkyDrive users will have the ability to post documents to networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, send a link that allows the recipient to access and edit an item, and share via Gmail and other email services.

In the name of making SkyDrive a better platform for documents, Microsoft has crafted it so PDFs will load in whatever the user's browser supports; for example, those with Chrome will see PDFs opened via SkyDrive in Chrome's native PDF viewer. The newest tweaks to SkyDrive also include support for uploading and viewing raw files from cameras. Photo captions have been placed more prominently, and image collections are now apparently easier to navigate.

Those who like to play around with files will have the ability to upload files and photos via drag-and-drop, for browsers that support HTML5 File API. Microsoft is apparently working to ensure that SkyDrive will cooperate peacefully with Internet Explorer 10. The processes of creating, renaming and manipulating folders within the interface have all been streamlined, in a move designed to blunt criticisms that the old actions were slow and unwieldy.

As Microsoft makes more intensive forays into the cloud space, where it competes against Google and its broad array of services, the company has worked to refine services such as SkyDrive, Hotmail and others that form the backbone of its "consumer cloud." In addition, it has rolled out new services, including Office 365, which offer "traditional" software in a new cloud-based package.

Even as it gravitates toward the cloud, however, Microsoft still depends on that traditional software to power the bulk of its revenue, while its online services continue to lose hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter. In turn, that pressures the company to port more customers onto its cloud services, even as it continues to promote Office, Windows and other boxed software.

The alternative, of course, is to lose out to companies like Google and Salesforce, which have spent years pushing aggressively into the cloud arena. 

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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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