Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

Summary: Add another Microsoft app/service to the 'ported to iPad/iPhone' list. Today it's SkyDrive, Microsoft's consumer cloud service.

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Microsoft is on a roll with iOS-based iPad and iPhone implementations of its applications.

Yesterday, it was OneNote and a "real soon now" commitment on its Lync unified-communications client for the iPad. Microsoft also announced this week that its Kinectimals game is now available for the iPad and iPhone.

On December 13, Microsoft made yet another Apple-focused announcement: An iOS version of SkyDrive for the iPad and iPhone. (Note: The iPad is supported, but this isn't an iPad-optimized version of SkyDrive. I've asked if there's one of those coming.)

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft already offers a SkyDrive software/service implementation for Windows, as part of its Windows Live Essentials bundle. Today's iOS SkyDrive offering will allow iPad and iPhone users to upload photos, files and documents, rename uploaded content and manage folders from their Apple devices.

SkyDrive is a competitor to Apple's iCloud in that it supports storage of photos and docs. (Ironically, iCloud is believed to run, at least in part, on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform. SkyDrive is Microsoft-hosted, but isn't running on Windows Azure.)

Even though SkyDrive is part of Microsoft's Live Essentials bundle, it has been getting regular updates, as of late. (Most of the Live Essentials services seem to be on the same two- to three-year release cycle as Windows itself, for some odd reason.) In November, Microsoft made a number of updates to SkyDrive, adding PDF support and HTML5 upload capabilities to its cloud service. In June, Microsoft gave the SkyDrive site an HTML5 makeover.

My contacts seem somewhat divided as to the wisdom of Microsoft's decision to deliver many of its key software and services for non-Windows platforms -- and especially for Apple's platforms. Microsoft is a software vendor, and has shown increasing interest in porting its wares to many of the leading platforms as a way to make money and appease customers who aren't Microsoft-only shops/households. Some maintain that Microsoft should keep its crown jewels as Windows/Windows Phone-only products to keep users from having yet another reason to defect.

I am in the former camp. I believe the days of killer apps running on a single platform are over, though the Windows team seems intent on trying to revise this business model with Windows 8. What's your two cents?

Update: According to a December 13 post on the "Inside Windows Live" blog, Microsoft also is rolling out a dedicated SkyDrive for Windows Phone app today, as well -- which is meant to complement the SkyDrive integration built into Windows Phone already.

Topics: Windows, Apple, Collaboration, iPad, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

    Finally Microsoft is getting it! Services business is totally different from software business! A service like Skydrive is useless if it's not platform independent. The reason why DropBox is so popular is that it works everywhere and for everyone.

    If Microsoft wants to win this thing they have to be available on all platforms. Let Apple make the devices, Microsoft is making money from software. That's even in the company name if you guys have forgotten.
    jv_
    • Is MS making money from SkyDrive?

      @jv_
      Apple wrote iTunes for Windows for 2 reasons:
      1. Apple wanted to create one of the worst Windows applications in the world to make Windows look bad.
      2. Apple knew that unless they supported the #1 most popular OS in the world, their iPod income would be severly limited to the 1% of the computer owning world that was willing to put up with OS X.

      It worked. iPod sales were dysmal before iTunes for Windows. Now? Well, Apple's financial figures speak for themselves.

      I'm not seeing the billions in revenue that MS is getting by releasing a $15 OneNote app and access to free cloud storage.

      MS is an incredibly innovative company. That simply cannot be argued. MS is also very good at monetizing about 5 of their products. That simply cannot be argued. I also believe that MS wastes a lot of time on ventures that will never earn them any substantial (or even positive) revenue.
      toddybottom
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @toddybottom <br><br>I don't think it would be in the best interest of Apple to treat their customers badly by building lousy version of iTunes on purpose. I agree that it sucks but I still don't think it's on purpose.<br><br>The point of having Skydrive or Onenote on iOS is not to help the Apple users. The point is that a service is useless if it's not compatible. It's then useless for all of the people buying Windows as well. So to make the people using Windows and buying desktop versions of Office happy Microsoft HAS TO support also other platforms.<br><br>You should see it as an extension or support for their real customer base, not as a plan to make a lot of money out of iPad users.
        jv_
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @jv_ if anything it is Microsoft???s meddling that created a sub-par experience in iTunes. Remember outside software vendors do not have access to the documented internal use only API???s than Windows has in it. Microsoft has a;so ten shown to make changes to hamper third party software, n the past.
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @jv_ While it may seem odd to claim that Apple would build iTunes to deliberately look bad on Windows, the fact is that it is one of the worst apps you can possibly run on Windows. Period.

        It installs a large amount of background applets and services, none of which are necessary to listen, buy and sync music and it runs very, VERY poorly. And Apple rarely fixes it. Ed Bott wrote a great article showing you how to unpack iTunes and just install what you REALLY need, omitting all of the garbage that just chokes up your Windows PC and drags it to its knees.

        The same is true for QuickTime which I simply will not install on any of my Windows machines. If iTunes is a dog, QuickTime is a dead, rotting rat.

        And yet both run beautifully on OSX. Strange that, huh?

        Why would Apple do this? Because if their app appears to run poorly on Windows, customers will complain to them about it. They then say <i>"we know, sorry, not much we can do about it - that's just Windows for you. However, iTunes and QuickTime run beautifully on our OSX machines. Here, let me show you ... "</i>
        bitcrazed
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @Rick_Kl - That's just utter nonsense and complete garbage.

        Microsoft publicly documents all its public API's which are used by millions of companies around the world to build every app conceivable on Windows, most of which are immeasurably more complex than iTunes.

        And yet Apple, one of the worlds biggest and best software development companies cannot build a simple media player and sync'ing tool for its own hardware because Microsoft is in some way restricting their access to "hidden" API's? Sorry, that's utter nonsense.
        bitcrazed
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @bitcrazed you do realize that Microsoft got the source code for QuickTime? You do realize that is the same source code that was the basis of Windows Media Player. At the same time having the source code allowed the engineers at Microsoft throw as many wrenches in the works, to make Windows Media Player look better.
        http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Apple_v._San_Francisco_Canyon
        Interesting that you bring that up, as Microsoft added code to Windows to hamper QuickTime performance.

        I see toddy bottom is excessively flagging posts again, why hasn???t that screen name been banned yet?
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @toddybottom OneNote works best in conjunction with back-end Microsoft Server products.

        A lot of corporates use MS server products

        A lot of executives use iPads

        Alternatives, which don't use MS server products are already available on the iPad/iPhone and have web or desktop clients for Windows (E.g. Evernote).

        Putting a OneNote app out keeps those corporate executives sweet and doesn't get them asking their IT department embarassing questions about how they can access their notes on the move, or worse bypassing the IT infrastructure and using Evernote etc.

        The same goes for Skydrive, there are lots of Windows users with Live accounts.

        There are lots of Windows users with iOS devices.

        QED in order to stop them defecting to iCloud and possibly looking at Macs, it makes sense to provide SkyDrive on iOS to head them off at the pass, before they defect.

        This isn't about winning new Apple users, this is about maintaining customer base in the corporate arena (OneNote and Lync) and the "home" user (Live / SkyDrive).
        wright_is
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @Rick_Kl
        Nice trolling but your facts are totally wrong.
        1) iTunes is slow not because MS is messing with APIs, it was Apple who refused to use any Windows native APIs and implement/re-implement a whole, slower QTKit and WebKit framework on Windows just to run iTunes. That framework was meant to compatible with Carbon and it has a lot of overhead since Carbon was originated from PowerPC architecture.
        Some fun facts: iTunes was so bad that even 64 bit iTunes version is a lie. When you download a 64bit version of iTunes, if really just running 32 bit app with 64 bit drivers. Some might say it's a good thing by minimizing code branching but take this: The Mac version of iTunes,even today, is still a Carbon application. Now that's the proof of laziness.

        2) Get your fact straight, again. That QuickTime case has nothing to do with Windows Media Player. It was a part of Intel's Video of Windows and was replaced by ActiveMovie when IE3 released: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_for_Windows
        Samic
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @bitcrazed

        Microsoft had (has) many undocumented API's which they use to give their applications an unfair advantage of any other software. See:

        http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/101947/microsoft-used-undocumented-windows-apis-iowa-testimony

        Microsoft has ALWAYS had (and still has) the exterminate anything in it's way mentality, and it appears it will never change. Microsoft is still a monopoly that needs to be taken apart.
        linux for me
    • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

      @jv_ I agree with JV. SkyDrive (and Office Web Apps) is great.... but I use DropBox because it works seamlessly almost miraculously everywhere. DropBox app on Mac is great. DropBox on my iPhone is great (and it integrates with QuickOffice). Come to think of it, if MS acquired DropBox and QuickOffice they would have an instant insurmountable foothold on the mobile world. They have the cash reserves after all.
      cmoya
    • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

      Hurry up and release an Android app and it better work with tablets too!

      I know I'd find it very useful. The unofficial Sorami works well but it could be much better.
      bradavon
  • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

    Unfortunately, the continued lack of integration between Live Mesh-Skydrive storage and "regular" Skydrive storage is still a huge problem for me. I can think of no reason for why these two partitions should be separate. Not being able to use them together is a huge inconvenience.
    Resplendent
    • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

      @Resplendent

      It says something that iOS now has a native client for Skydrive but Windows doesn't. Would be nice to get rid of the sync limitations and actually use the space by mounting the Skydrive as a real drive on Windows. It's still missing even from the Win8 dev preview. One would think that it would be the first thing they did with a service like Skydrive.
      jv_
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @jv_ (mount SkyDrive as a drive on Windows). http://www.howtogeek.com/56096/how-to-use-skydrives-25-gb-as-a-mapped-drive-for-easy-access/
        cmoya
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @jv_ how to map skydrive in Windows: http://www.groovypost.com/howto/microsoft/windows-7-map-drive-skydrive-using-url-address-network/
        zdnetreader123
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @cmoya and @zdnetreader123

        I know there are hacks to mount Skydrive on Windows using either third party tools or different methods. I was talking about native and user-friendly ways of using it without any third party tools or instructions. It should be a basic task for every user.

        Again, even Windows 8 developer preview is lacking this functionality although it even lets users log in with their Live IDs. Why is MS leaving Skydrive integration out then?

        I know that in Windows 8 on the Metro UI side you can integrate to many things but this seems like they are trying to hide the file system intentionally. That's not the way computers should work. It's ok that apps offer alternative view to the file systems but not giving users direct access is plain stupid.

        Again, sandboxing applications the way Apple does in iOS has it's benefits as I can be sure that Facebook app doesn't read my data from other apps but there should be a way to also share information between apps. File system is that way. BUT it needs improvements to deny, for example, the Facebook app any access to it.
        jv_
      • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

        @jv_
        It will be in the final version of Windows 8, no doubt.
        kstap
  • A Stranger in a Strange Land

    You say Apple is rumored to use, in part, Windows Azure tech for it's iCloud service. And you say, Microsoft doesn't use Azure for it's SkyDrive tech. You know, I wouldn't be surprised to learn MS operates SkyDrive on Linux servers.
    kenosha77a
  • RE: Cloud wars: Microsoft SkyDrive now native on Apple's iPad and iPhone

    I've been waiting for this on Android for a long time. And they go with iOS?
    compy386