Microsoft has steadily begun working with SkyDrive to make it competitive with Google Docs, dropbox and other similar services over the last few months. However, the latest update to SkyDrive not only looks at what other services are doing right but also what users want to see in the service.
This is the most feedback-driven update in SkyDrive’s history. While other services are often seen as more feature-driven and reliable, Microsoft has invested the resources to turn SkyDrive into the file storage, sharing and working space users deserve.
What changes have been made to SkyDrive?
Microsoft has made a handful of changes to SkyDrive this update, for an overview of these changes, check out this video Windows Live released:
In addition to the primary changes to SkyDrive implemented, behind the scenes performance issues were addressed to make the service quicker and more reliable. Since many functions now occur in line, this makes the services much faster for users. SkyDrive will also preload as you are logging into the site so that you can begin working from the get go. Signing into Microsoft SkyDrive is also about 50% faster than it used to be.
Now, let us take a look at the changes to specific areas of SkyDrive. We will go over each major area of improvement and give you an overview of what changed and why this is important for the overall development of the SkyDrive service.
Since more and more Internet and smart phone users are utilizing applications to make their lives easier, SkyDrive does now, too. By taking the concept of how apps make things simpler, Microsoft has applied that to how you share documents within SkyDrive.
When you want to share a document, you are given three primary options: Share via e-mail, post to your networks or get a link. Sharing is that simple on SkyDrive now. This feature is something other services already offered, so adding it to SkyDrive makes it more appealing to those who find this type of set up worthwhile to use.
File management reworked
Following the cue from turning SkyDrive into an app-centric service, the file management associated with the service has completely changed. In order to better share documents, changing how folders and files are managed had to change to in order to make the whole process simpler.
The first change was to make folder creation instant. The next was to make moving, deleting and downloading files able to be done in bulk and just as quickly. You can now move and copy files by using the right-click function. Creating a document can be done just about instantly as well.
Again, this is another feature that was already well integrated into other services, like Google Docs, by adding this to SkyDrive, it entices users to give the service a shot especially if they have already been using other Windows Live services.
HTML5 and CSS3 integration
SkyDrive relies on Microsoft Silverlight to help drive its engine and continue to make the service shine. SkyDrive will now build upon what Silverlight offers and integrate HTML 5 and CSS3 technologies to enable drag and drop to upload files. Similar to how other services allow you to drag and drop to upload, SkyDrive now allows you to do it and continue working elsewhere.
This makes SkyDrive faster, much faster and more in line to how online services are being run and worked.
The slideshow feature that previously was clunky and slow has now been improved to bring it more in line to what other photo sharing and document services offer.
Most other services offer advanced photo services, while this improvement is minor, it is a step in the right direction for SkyDrive.
File type support
Microsoft has added file support for PDF and RAW file formats. Since PDF is the way many users are working with documents now, being able to offer this gives SkyDrive a chance to compete with other services that already offered the support. Similar to how Chrome works, you can now natively load PDF files in SkyDrive as long as Adobe Acrobat is installed on your computer.
PDF support, more so than the RAW format, is supported even by web browser. Adding PDF file support brings SkyDrive in line with other services, software and platforms.
Is SkyDrive truly a competitor now?
While some would argue that Microsoft’s SkyDrive is a competitor against Google Docs, dropbox and other file management systems online, it seems that these latest changes simply bring it in line to what others are offering. Until Microsoft begins making changes to truly improve this type of service in general and not in line to what is already out there, users of other services have no reason to make the jump to SkyDrive. While SkyDrive can be beneficial for those already using other Windows Live services, it offers nothing that something like Google Docs offers to make users reconsider using SkyDrive.
If you are a SkyDrive user, how have the changes to the service this time around made a difference for you? Are you more likely to recommend the service to others now? What changes would you like to see in SkyDrive to make it better than its competitors? We would love to hear what you think!
Read more on the changes to SkyDrive.