Microsoft SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution that lets you store files online, and access them on multiple devices. You can also upload photos, office documents, or other files and share them with other users — who can view them in a browser. SkyDrive also works with Microsoft Office, letting you save files to the cloud, or even edit them using a web browser.

It’s already a pretty decent service, offering 7GB of free storage or additional space for a small annual fee. But now Microsoft is rolling out a major update with a new design, better search, new desktop apps, and an Android app.

SkyDrive

The most noticeable change is the new user interface for the SkyDrive website. It looks a lot like the Windows Phone or Windows 8 user interface, with a clean design and a default view featuring large icons or “tiles” for your files instead of tiny thumbnails.

You can still choose the “details” view to see a good old-fashioned list of files, along with the date modified and the file size.

Microsoft has also added a new contextual toolbar to the top of the screen, the ability to select multiple files and folder in thumbnail view and drag-and-drop them, and improved search.

The new user interface starts rolling out today, and users should start noticing it when they login to their SkyDrive accounts using a web browser in the next day or so.

There are also new SkyDrive apps for Windows and OS X, featuring bulk photo upload improvements and reduced CPU usage while synchronizing files.

In a few weeks Microsoft will release the first official SkyDrive app for Android, letting you view or open files stored in your account or upload files from your device.

SkyDrive apps are already available for Windows Phone and iOS.

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7 replies on “Microsoft gives SkyDrive a Windows 8-like makeover, Android app coming soon”

  1. Never mind the appearance, it seems that SkyDrive is replacing Live Essentials, without matching all of its features. For example, you can connect remotely and access another PC’s files, but you cannot do a proper remote control like with Live Mesh, with aspect ratio control, drag and drop, shared windows with a local user, etc. Of course, you can do regular Windows Remote Desktop, but that requires a static IP or port forwarding plus a hole in the firewall. Live mesh was trivial to set up and worked perfectly. Oh, well, I guess MS doesn’t care that people used it, after all they basically never made people aware of it anyway.

    When you load the new SkyDrive, it helpfully uninstalls Live Essentials, so you lose features like the above immedately. Thanks MS.

    1. I imagine they will update everything in time. MS is a work in progress right now.

    2. Skydrive does provide features like Remote Fetch, which lets you navigate through the file systems of all of your
      connected PCs with Skydrive installed.

      While you can use something like Logmein Hamachi VPN client (free for personal use, up to five PCs) on the PCs you need to access remotely. Then, you can use the built-in
      Remote Desktop Connection application in Windows 8 to establish a remote
      desktop connection to the remote PC.

      Btw, there’s actually now two SkyDrives… the regular original and a new SkyDrive Pro version (based on SharePoint) that’ll offer more security and more features for the new MS Office.

      While like jb82 indicated, they’re still working on it. This update for example includes “Instant Search”. So you can now quickly search for a file anywhere in your SkyDrive,
      including the content of Office documents such as Word, Excel and
      PowerPoint.

      They’ve moved many of the common commands into the toolbar at the top of the page for a better contextual toolbar, and they also now include multi-select and drag and drop. Along with some sorting improvements.

      Meanwhile, they’re still working on things like Sync, which they have to provide better control as otherwise it will just sync everything from all your computers.

      A caveat for now until they further improve the service is that it’ll include more free online storage.

  2. I’m not keen on the windows 8 look for full desktop style apps and webpages. Works well for a phone or tablet app though.

    I’m not liking this trend to making everything fit tablets at the expense of the full desktop experience. Eg I found netflix and amazon.com to be harder to navigate now rather than how they were 6 months-1 year ago.

    1. On the other hand, those using their systems and devices with say their TV would probably think it’s a improvement.

      The UI is still evolving and will continue to even after W8 release and there may still be some surprises.

      Like so far the leaked RTM seems to still let the Classic Shell mod to work and there’s little doubt that 3rd party developers will get started on UI mods and custom themes as soon as they get a hold of the final release.

      While W8 itself has a lot of improvements under the hood. Data file transfer is much improved, the whole OS is faster (animations are 60fps), nearly everything gets hardware acceleration, they upped the security, improved recovery options, added lots of new features, etc.

      MS is also going to do what it can to ease the transition. Like they’re already going to release W8 optimized peripherals. So you can get a mouse or desktop touchpad that’ll let you do things like side scrolling and use gestures without the need for a touch screen.

      Laptops especially will require the touchpads to be updated to fully support W8.

      While W8 actually has some improvements for multi-monitor support. Like wallpaper support for each monitor, taskbar/charms/etc will work on each monitor without a 3rd party utility, cursor will hit corners for sec before going on to the next screen, snap will work for each monitor, it will scale for each monitor resolution, Start Screen can be left on one monitor and the desktop on another, etc.

      So it seems it’s mainly the regular single monitor desktop that will have some issues. Though W8 is highly customizable and depending on what needs to be done people can stay on the desktop most of the time.

      There’s plenty of keyboard shortcut commands for example to start with, Alt+F4 works for both desktop and metro apps for example, but you can also do things like modify the desktop right click mouse menu to include the power commands to quickly do shutdown, reboot, etc without ever leaving the desktop.

      So aside from a learning curve and taking the time to customize the system it’s perfectly possible to be a power user on W8.

      MS is suppose to provide tutorials and promotional materials by time of launch. So we’ll see how well they do to educate users.

      1. I like win 8. I just wish websites would stick to a more desktop like page or intelligently tell whether one has a laptop or a tablet and display the appropriate style page. One page for everything doesn’t work. Now everything is moving towards being made for tablets and it makes the laptop/desktop experience a little funny.

        1. That much I agree, but it’s not yet easy for them to cater to every possible layout. So for now they cater to the lowest common denominator.

          It doesn’t help that people are more likely to be using a mobile device than the traditional desktop these days for web browsing but I don’t expect this trend to last forever as eventually a better compromise should slowly come out over time.

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