Apple’s iCloud is a nice tool for keeping contacts, calendar items, and other data in sync between the iPhone and iPad, but what about keeping everything synced up with your Windows PC? Are you intrigued, excited and/or impressed by iCloud, but keep Windows as your operating system of choice?
A huge chunk of computer users today use Windows and may own or use some sort of iDevice, such as an iPad or iPhone, or maybe even a Mac as another computer. I’d expect that this represents a great many of you, actually, what with Microsoft’s still mammoth share of the PC OS market.
Well, whatever your combination of technology, here’s some news for you: iCloud works with Windows. Officially. Apple has that covered as well with the iCloud Control Panel for Windows. Lets look at how it works.
Firstly, you’ll need to head on over to this page on Apple’s support site.
Hit the download button you should find near the top right of the screen, and once your file has come down you may, depending on your browser, be given a security warning such as this.
Just hit the ‘run’ button or any equivalent you’ll find on other browsers, and the install process of the iCloud control panel will begin.
Hit “Next”, and you’ll be faced with the terms & conditions page. Feel free to give them a read over if you’re that way inclined, but either way you’ll want to hit ‘Agree’ if you want to use the product.
At this point, Windows 7 will decide to, unless you’ve changed some preferences in the OS itself, bring user account control into the mix and ask you if you’re an administrator. Do whatever you see fit, but again if you want to press on, hit ‘Continue’. The application will then install.
Once the progress bar has worked its magic, that’s the end of the installation process and you just need to hit ‘finish’, should you see the screen below as I do.
Running the iCloud Control Panel
At the end of the installation, unless you deliberately unchecked the option, the control panel should have opened automatically with the splash screen seen below.
If not, just hit the Start button and search ‘iCloud’ in the universal search bar at the bottom of the start menu if you’re in Windows 7 or Vista, but if you’re in XP or before then you’ll have to go into Control Panel and it’ll be under the networking section.
iCloud Control Panel in Action
Once the app is open it will stay alive in your system tray at the bottom right.
Once you’re signed in, iCloud will behave identically to how it does on the Mac, for those familiar, but for those not here’s a quick look at what you can do.
The app basically allows you to do all of the things that iCloud was sold as. You can sync your mail, contacts, calendar, bookmarks and photos to and from your other devices. Rather than doing all this with the Mac or iOS apps, however, obviously there has to be an equivalent for Windows, so iCloud on Microsoft’s OS works solely with Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer, without the option to change to a third-party piece such as Thunderbird or Google Chrome, which is somewhat disappointing, but understandable all the while.
At the bottom you have the counter, which tracks how much of your online space you’re using up through iCloud at any one time. You have a quota of 5GB which is ample for storing the calendars, mail, contacts and bookmarks, but a lot of photos might do some damage, and if so there’s a ‘manage’ tool for you to take a look at and get things in order.
I’m actually happier about this perhaps than any sane person should be a piece of software, as I for one know very few Mac or iPhone owners who don’t come into any contact with a Windows-based PC at some point, and admittedly I am quite overly pedantic when it comes to keeping things consistent across my devices.
It’s interesting that Apple has created this application for Windows though, as iCloud in itself could become a major selling point of their own products, and this would appear to be a Google-esque move, planting seeds on rival platforms.
Having said that, I’m not going to complain and I for one am delighted, though a little underwhelmed that I can’t use another browser or mail client than Microsoft’s own, that we can use iCloud across desktop platforms.