Microsoft Testing Free Data Storage In the Cloud

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-06-29 Print this article Print

Hosted storage system is for personal files and accessing and sharing files publicly—with access controls.

Microsoft, as part of its new Windows Live set of hosted services announced on June 27, is now beta testing the concept of free data storage "in the cloud" for consumers.

If all goes well with the 5,000 beta testers now trying it out (sorry, no more testers are being added at this time), Windows users at large could be receiving the invite to sign up free of charge by this fall.

Windows Live Folders, a hosted system for storage of personal files and accessing and sharing files publicly with access controls for all contacts, will give users 500MB of online storage at no charge. The maximum file size supported will be 50MB.

"Windows Live, first of all, is a set of tools that allow users to save files, share files and communicate is a very safe way," Adam Sohn, a Microsoft marketing director for online products, told eWEEK.

"These were developed in response to our customers, who repeatedly told us, I love the Internet, but in some respects I use it in spite of the Internet industry, who has made it too fragmented, too unsafe, too hard to figure out. Ive got data and applications spread all over the place. Help me unify this stuff!"

Windows Live is a set of services that begins to deliver on that need, Sohn said.

Live Folders is a "first step into giving folks some storage capabilities that are hosted," so they dont have to tax their own desktop or laptop disks for additional storage, Sohn said.

There are three "buckets of folders, in Live Folders, Sohn said-personal, shared, and public folders.

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"Every person who gets into the service will have those three sets of storage," Sohn said. "You can add a bunch more folders underneath those buckets, if you want. The personal one is just for you; the shared folder-you manage the permissions. You can pick people off your contact list-your Hotmail address book or your Windows Live Messenger contacts, for example. You can point and click off your own social network."

The public folder is for access by the entire Internet, Sohn said. People can take files, add files or change them-do anything they want-to files in a users public folder.

Live Folders aims to set the table for a planned common Microsoft storage infrastructure that will be used alongside other services-such as Windows Live Photo Gallery, which also was launched earlier this week-in the future.

"This is both a Web application that I can go to in order to access and share files, as well as a common storage infrastructure that will underpin an increasing number of our services going forward. This is the first step of that common storage infrastructure," said Brian Hall, general manager of Microsofts Windows Live business group.

Over time, Sohn said, Microsoft would like users to think about how to bring all these services together and use them on a regular basis.

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"What were looking to do is build out the [Internet] infrastructure and experiences so that people can do what it is they want to do with their data," Sohn said.

"This weeks deliverable of a Web-based hosted file storage system is kind of cool, but in the end, we want those distinctions to go away. We want a user to say, Okay, I need access to the pictures I took of my kids in the beach in Hawaii, and to be able to just go searching. If that stuff is up in a Web share, great; if its sitting on a PC at your house, we want to enable you to tunnel through [to get it].

"We want the interaction to be able find a piece of media or information easy across all of the devices in your life, including phones and handheld devices."

Microsoft wants to "put the user at the center of all that matters in their life," so they can get any digital document they want, when they want it, Sohn said.

"Live Folders is a small down payment on building out this infrastructure," Sohn said.

Windows Live Folders, which will contain advertising, will be free of charge. The beta for this service is now under way in the United States; tester feedback will be used to develop future versions of the service.

eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli contributed to this report.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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