How Microsoft SkyDrive will morph from a Web site to cloud service with Windows 8

Microsoft is working to turn SkyDrive into a true cloud storage service with a new Windows 8 SkyDrive app and integration.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

On the heels of some big leaks over the past weekend about alleged features coming to the next version of Microsoft's cloud storage service, the Windows Live team has gone public with early information as to what's happening.

As some Microsoft watchers expected after seeing some alleged new Skydrive screen shots posted on February 18 by Gemind.com.br, Microsoft is moving toward combining its Skydrive and Live Mesh services with the next release of Skydrive. (Live Mesh is Microsoft's Dropbox-like sync service that the company first announced in 2008.)

Up until now, SkyDrive has been little more than a Web site where users can save, share and access files and data. The SkyDrive team plans to turn it into more of a real service that will supplement Windows 8, according to a February 20 post on the Building Windows 8 blog.

As weekend leaks indicated, Microsoft is building a SkyDrive Metro-style app for Windows 8. SkyDrive files also will be integrated with the Windows Explorer on the desktop (as LiveSide noted in a post over the weekend), and the ability to fetch remote files via SkyDrive.com is coming, as well, according to today's Building Windows 8 post from Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, Group Program Managers for SkyDrive.

Microsoft plans to make the SkyDrive app for Windows 8 available simultaneously with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which is due out by February 29. The ability to do desktop sync and fetching remote files will come "soon afterwards" for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, company officials said.

There's no mention in today's post about the alleged Mac client for the new SkyDrive service, which the Brazillian site Gemind.com.br featured over the weekend. There's also no mention of the long-expected paid supplemental SkyDrive options beyond the current free 25 GB plan, or of the OpenDoc file suport; new URL shortening service, or BitLocker-encrypted recovery key storage that also are alleged to be part of the coming SkyDrive release.

Update: Thanks to eagle-eyed reader @TheRackow, there is a mention of coming higher-storage plans, though no details in today's post. The post says:

"SkyDrive for the desktop will also provide the ability to sync up to your available quota of storage (and the ability to unlock more), along with unmatched performance on your PC. Oh, and we will also have support for uploading large files (up to 2GB) through Explorer, another big request from SkyDrive.com users over the years."

The Gemind.com.br site mentioned alleged new +20, +50 and +100 GB add-on plans in its post this past weekend. Microsoft officials declined to comment on that report.

There also is nothing in today's Building Windows 8 blog post about how Microsoft will beef up Windows Phone synchronization -- beyond the current Camera Roll support -- with the coming SkyDrive update. Microsoft originally planned to sync not just PCs, but also phones, with Live Mesh, but ending up curtailing that planned support with the initial consumer release of the service.

Editorial standards