Microsoft adds paid storage options to its SkyDrive cloud service

Microsoft has announced the rumored paid storage tiers for SkyDrive, its cloud storage service, and has rolled out previews of new SkyDrive apps for Windows and Mac OS X Lion.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As rumors have indicated for a while, Microsoft has added paid storage options to its SkyDrive cloud service.

Brand new SkyDrive users get7 GB of storage for free. Existing users (those with accounts as of April 22) continue to get up to 25 GB of storage for free if they opt to do so. After that, an additional 20 GB costs $10 per year; an additional 50 GB costs $25 per year; and an additional 100 GB, $50 per year.

Microsoft also made available for download on April 23 a preview version of SkyDrive for Windows, a local version of its SkyDrive client. This is the first step the Softies are taking toward integrating SkyDrive with Live Mesh, the company's synchronization service that's similar to DropBox. The preview is available for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

With the SkyDrive app for Windows, everything put in a SkyDrive folder on a Windows PC is automatically kept in sync between PCs, Macs and SkyDrive.com, according to the download site. Also on the feature list:

  • Ability to access SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer — photos, documents, and other files
  • Option to add new files to SkyDrive by dragging them to the SkyDrive folder
  • Ability to organize files and folders in SkyDrive, just like any other folder
  • Option to connect back to the PC if the user forgets to put something in SkyDrive

Microsoft officials have been working to turn SkyDrive into a full-fledged service, rather than just a Web site, for the past several months. The company's moves on this front have taken on an urgency with Google's competitor, GDrive, finally materializing after years of rumors.

Microsoft also made available an updated version of its SkyDrive app for Windows Phone on April 22. There's also a new preview of SkyDrive for Mac OS X Lion available for download today, as well.

Update: Microsoft also updated the iPhone and iPad versions of SkyDrive today, as well. (Thanks for the info, @tomarbuthnot.) These updates support the new Retina Display, and add a couple other new features.

Update No. 2: Microsoft also is surfacing apps that are designed to work with SkyDrive on different platforms and devices (to make them easier for users to discover, I'd assume).

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