It’s official. Microsoft’s SkyDrive has officially become OneDrive. I’ve heard a lot of quesions related to “Why”? The rebranding wasn’t one of choice, but follows a bitter legal battle with the United Kingdom’s British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB. It was a simple matter of making the change rather than waste time and money trying to win what looks like a loosing battle. Whatever the reason, SkyDrive is dead, and now, OneDrive appears to be here to stay. Overall, OneDrive is an awful lot like SkyDrive, including its design layout and feature set. Still, the platform is notable in that it’s Microsoft’s best effort yet to compete with cloud-storage services from Google and other players in the market. It’s also arguably one of the most important online services the company will offer in the coming years as the cloud continues to evolve as an integral component in the average person’s life. I’ll give you some basic bullet points to outline both new and old features, and key factors for your consideration. Here is what to expect from OneDrive.
- The overall look and feel will be similar since Microsoft was forced to make the transition from SkyDrive to OneDrive somewhat quickly. Those who had been using SkyDrive will find that getting around the service is simple, and completing many of the same tasks won’t require any breaking in, which is a good thing.
- Microsoft is offering Free Storage. In a continued effort to entice new users to sign up for OneDrive, they are giving free storage. Microsoft says that every new person who signs up for the cloud solution will get 7GB of free storage. Beyond that, there are some nominal fees that will be accrued annually.
- There is a “Refer-a-Friend” to bring on new members to OneDrive. The company said in a blog post Feb. 19 that customers who refer others to OneDrive will receive 500MB free, up to a maximum of 5GB free. Microsoft is even giving customers 3GB free when they use its camera backup feature.
- Pick a Device, Any Device! One of the nice things about Microsoft’s OneDrive is that it’s available on just about every device imaginable. The service works with Android handsets, can connect to Windows PCs and works on Macs. The service also works exceptionally well on the Xbox One, and allows users to back up files from iOS. Ubiquity might be a key reason OneDrive could eventually enjoy success.
- Automatic Android Photo Backup is one new feature of OneDrive. This feature allows users to set their Android handsets so that as soon as an image is taken, it’s automatically backed up to their OneDrive. The feature is similar to the automatic backup available with OneDrive on iOS and Windows Phone 8.
- Sharing Videos Just Got Easier! One of the issues SkyDrive users were having was the general inability to quickly and easily share and watch videos. In many cases, they were forced to wait an inordinate amount of time to access the content. That has been solved with OneDrive. Microsoft says that the issues users were previously experiencing are now gone and should allow for a more entertaining time watching videos
- Office Web Apps? Still There! Office Web Apps are still accessible from OneDrive. Users can access and view Office files, as well as edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents. OneDrive also includes the ability to integrate those files with the desktop versions of Office.
- Microsoft Added Real-Time Document Collaboration which is, by many opinion, one of the biggest improvements to OneDrive! With that feature, users in a corporate environment (or friends on the consumer side) can work on the same document in real-time without fear of OneDrive losing the latest version. It’s something that Google Drive users have had for a while, and it’s nice to see Microsoft offering a similar solution.
- Microsoft’s “Smart Integration” works with Third-Party Apps! Microsoft realizes that, in order to be successful, its offering must be capable of playing nice with any and all third-party services. We’ve already mentioned support for Macs, iOS and Android, but Microsoft also allows users to seamlessly share photos or videos to Facebook or email. After recording game play from the Xbox One, the content can be uploaded to OneDrive and shared with others. Microsoft is platform-agnostic with OneDrive and should be commended for that.
- There’s an Act-Fast Opportunity… This one might have a short shelf life, but Microsoft announced that it will be giving away 100GB of free storage for one year to 100,000 people. Microsoft hasn’t said exactly how it will determine who gets the free storage, but it has urged users to follow its Twitter page “for clues.” It’s a nice offer, and speaks to just how serious Microsoft appears to be about getting users onto OneDrive.
All in all, I’m a big fan of OneDrive and it’s offerings. There are other players in the market, but this one is desinged to work and play well with all platforms and it tightly intergrated into the Microsoft Platforms and Applications. Like them or not, they are a major player that most of us use regularily. That’s just one person’s opintion, feel free to add your two cents worth.