Microsoft fleshes out SkyDrive cloud storage system

Microsoft has released a series of SkyDrive cloud storage apps, taking aim at entrenched rivals such as Dropbox, as well as soon-to-be competitor Google.Having already shown off the future SkyDrive app for Windows 8, on Monday Microsoft released preview clients for existing Windows Vista and 7 users, as well as for Mac OS X users.

Microsoft has released a series of SkyDrive cloud storage apps, taking aim at entrenched rivals such as Dropbox, as well as soon-to-be competitor Google.

Having already shown off the future SkyDrive app for Windows 8, on Monday Microsoft released preview clients for existing Windows Vista and 7 users, as well as for Mac OS X users. As with Dropbox, this client integrates right into Windows Explorer or Finder, acting as a virtual folder.

Customers can 'fetch' files from a remote PC running the preview app, through the SkyDrive.com web service.

Microsoft also updated its existing SkyDrive clients for Windows Phone and iOS devices, and introduced a series of paid storage options for those who want to exceed the standard 7GB.

"Taken together with access from popular mobile phones and a browser, you can now take your SkyDrive with you anywhere, connect it to any app that works with files and folders, and get all the storage you need," SkyDrive group programme managers Mike Torres and Omar Shahine wrote in a blog post.

Files and subfolders within the SkyDrive folder can be used and edited across a range of devices, staying in sync with each change, and the service can be used collaboratively. According to Torres and Shahine, PC users can also reroute their standard 'documents' and 'pictures' folders to the SkyDrive folder, effectively making the cloud their default storage platform.

You can now take your SkyDrive with you anywhere, connect it to any app that works with files and folders, and get all the storage you need.

– Mike Torres and Omar Shahine

In their post, Torres and Shahine took swipes at all of SkyDrive's biggest rivals. A string of sentences linking to the services of Google, Dropbox, Carbonite and Box.com respectively read: "Do I really have to read multiple pages to understand my storage limits? Why do other people's files count against my storage limit? Why does my upload speed slow down? Why do I get gobs of free storage but have to pay to sync my desktop files?"

Google is rumoured to be bringing out its own Google Drive service next week, with the free version providing 5GB of storage and paid-for options going up to 100GB. No prices have been revealed yet, and indeed the company still has to confirm the launch.

Microsoft's payment structure for SkyDrive includes 20GB additional storage for $10 (£6) a year, $25 for 50GB and $50 for 100GB.

However, those who had already signed up for SkyDrive's free 25GB service, and who have already uploaded files to it, will get to keep it without payment.