As LiveSide.net predicted, Microsoft has, indeed, decided to dump the "Windows Live Folders" branding and go with Windows Live SkyDrive for its cloud-storage service that is in beta test.
SkyDrive was one of the codenames Microsoft used for its storage service during its development. (Microsoft is saying that LiveDrive also was a codename for the same service and is not something distinct, as opposed to recent Microsoft information which indicated that LiveDrive and SkyDrive were not one and the same.) When the company announced the initial beta of the cloud-storage service, it changed the name to "Windows Live Folders." Now Microsoft is going back to Windows Live SkyDrive as the final name for the service.
Microsoft announced its rebranding plans on August 9. The company also refreshed and added some features of the SkyDrive service. Microsoft tweaked the SkyDrive user interface; added the ability to drag and drop single files or multiple files for upload; provided a new "thumbnails view"; and introduced an area designed to show other customers' SkyDrive folders visited recently.
A Microsoft spokeswoman noted that SkyDrive is still in beta.
"We look forward to extending the beta more broadly as we ramp up the service and begin collecting customer feedback, but we have no timeline to share at this time" for when the service will go gold.
Chris Overd, one of the main guys behind the independent LiveSide.Net site, was upbeat about the SkyDrive refresh, but noted that Microsoft has yet to up the amount of available cloud storage, something which could give SkyDrive even more consumer appeal.
"This update is a significant update to the Skydrive service, resolving several major issues that users had. Of course the biggest selling point for an online storage service is capacity, something which the team is yet to increase. This could ultimately be the key strength of the Skydrive service over existing competitors, and so the final amount may not be revealed until the end of the beta," Overd said.
Update: An interesting aside comes from Softie Dare Obasanjo, who notes that the SkyDrive team includes a number of Microsoft folks who worked on the old Project Max team. Microsoft discontinued Max, its photo-sharing technology initiative, in October 2006.
Update No. 2: Looks like Google didn't take the SkyDrive announcement lightly. At the end of the day on August 9, Google unveiled details of its own cloud-storage offering, which will be priced starting at $20 a year for 6 GB of storage.
Anyone out there dabbling with the Microsoft SkyDrive beta? What's your verdict so far?