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Microsoft Upgrades SkyDrive Too Before Google Drive Storm

Microsoft doesn't plan to be left behind in the cloud storage wars, and apparently sniffs a Google entry that's slated to arrive soon. That said, the Redmond company has made a few changes to SkyDrive, one of which is cranking up existing users from 7 GB to an optional-yet-meaty 25 GB (seriously, who'd turn that down?) for free. No strings attached.

Starting Monday, Microsoft now offers three additional paid storage plans: 20 GB of additional space for $10 per year, 50 GB of additional space for $25 per year, and 100 GB of additional space for $50 per year. New SkyDrive users will start off with 7 GB of free storage, but won't receive the free 25 GB upgrade as will the existing users.

So how do you connect with SkyDrive outside the Web browser? On Monday Microsoft made available a preview version of SkyDrive for Windows, a local version of its SkyDrive client, compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview. This allows users to access files on SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer, add new files to the virtual locker by dragging them to the SkyDrive folder, organize files and folders just like any other local folder, and more.

There's also an updated version of the Windows Phone app which was released on Sunday, and a new preview of SkyDrive for Mac OS X Lion that's now available to download. On the mobile front, Microsoft has updated the iPhone and iPad versions that adds support for the Retina display and other features. So far it looks as if Android has been left out of the loop, although that could change in the near future given that Microsoft still provides apps on the rival platform.

"As we set upon the path to bring SkyDrive closer to Windows, we had a few goals that drove our plan," Microsoft said in a blog on Monday. "First, we wanted you to be able to 'get up and running' as quickly as possible, with very few steps. Secondly, we wanted to 'be quiet' on the system and make sure that all processing was entirely in the background, with your needs and your apps as the first priority. And third, we really wanted it all to 'just work' as you’d expect it to, staying up-to-date automatically, and humming along without confusing dialogs or pop-ups."

Microsoft's virtual locker now also offers a "fetch" feature. With the SkyDrive software installed on a Windows machine, the user's PC essentially turns into a private cloud to browse files and stream videos from anywhere through the SkyDrive.com website. This is helpful when users are out of town and left certain files on their desktop, or they're stuck in the motel room and want a special video to watch that's stored on the home drive.

"In order to access a remote PC you will have to provide a second factor of authentication beyond your account password," Microsoft said. "You’ll need to enter a code that we send to your mobile phone or alternate email address even if you’re already signed in to your SkyDrive account (if you’re already on a trusted PC, you won’t have to do this every time, and it is easy to do this one-time setup). This means that anyone wanting access to your remote PC would have to have access not only to your account, but also to either an alternate email or your phone (which they would need to physically possess)."

For more information about the updates to SkyDrive, check out Microsoft's blog here. Remember, if you're already a SkyDrive user, your 7 GB capacity can be upgraded to 25 GB for free. New members won't get this upgrade, but will start out with 7 GB of free storage. That's still not bad considering the competition, but what hurts SkyDrive is a lack of Android support.

  • CaedenV
    um... skydrive has been at 25GB for a while now. Unless I am someone special... which I am pretty sure I am not.
    Reply
  • Cy-Kill
    The only way to get the 25GB from SkyDrive is if you had an account before April 22nd, although don't take my word for it, but it's what I've been reading online.

    Even if you had the free 25GB before, MS has downgraded you to 7GB, and like I said above, you can get back to the 25GB if you've had an account before April 22nd.
    Reply
  • Nakal
    Someone told me they reduced it to 7GB for everyone, and you could get it back by going through some process on the web. I know, sounds stupid to move everyone from 25GB to 7GB only to say you can have 25GB again and advertise it as a new feature.

    http://www.mobileburn.com/19347/news/microsoft-cuts-storage-for-free-skydrive-accounts-to-7gb
    Reply
  • ragenalien
    CaedenVum... skydrive has been at 25GB for a while now. Unless I am someone special... which I am pretty sure I am not.
    Proof that toms takes forever to report things.
    Reply
  • Cy-Kill
    It was downgraded to 7GB a couple of days ago, but you can get the 25GB back, although I am not sure if the April 22nd cut-off date is accurate or not.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    ragenalienProof that toms takes forever to report things.I figured out what happened.

    When I set up Skydrive for the Win8DP it gave me 25GB of online storage, and 5GB of syncable storage. When I checked my account I was in fact downgraded to 7GB, but now the syncable drive and the online storage were a single drive (they were separate before), and now that I 'upgraded' back to 25GB I now have 25GB of syncable storage which now works in win7 as well as win8CP which is kinda a handy feature.
    Reply
  • drwho1
    If they offered 100TB for Free I might think about it.
    Reply
  • zaznet
    No Android support, no sign up from me...
    Reply
  • blurr91
    I have always had 25GB on Skydrive... It's about time Microsoft released a client side interface for it. I never liked the clumsy web-based interface. Microsoft does a lot of things right, but web apps that are user-friendly have never been a strong point.
    Reply
  • balo_p
    If you go to the Skydrive app page there is a link at the bottom of the page for More Skydrive Apps. There are two Android browsing apps. I have not tried either yet but will later tonight.
    Reply