In November, Microsoft improved the syncing functionality in SkyDrive and said it would continue building and improving to compete with Google Drive. This month, it has added a number of new features that will improve its file sharing abilities as well as some new HTML 5 features to make the whole experience better.
While SkyDrive is not going to resemble Google Drive any time soon -- think of everything you get in Google Drive -- it is already ready a useful sharing tool that benefits from the fact that it works well with all other Microsoft apps, including the new Outlook.com email platform, so much so that Microsoft is asking people to move from Hotmail.
And just as Google built up its apps over years to arrive at the point it is at now, Microsoft appears to be doing exactly the same thing with SkyDrive.
SkyDrive File Sharing
In a Windows blog post late yesterday Omar Shahine, Group Program Manager at SkyDrive.com, said that the principal improvements it is introducing this time around come in the shape of an undivided view of how your files are being shared, as well as HTML 5 for touch devices that will make it faster and easier to use across devices.
Currently, SkyDrive offers users a number of different ways of sharing files through different social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or through simple link generation to send the file to whoever you want.
But more and more people are putting more and more files into SkyDrive with the result that many users are using more than one of these sharing methods at the same time.
To make this easier and to offer more control over the sharing process, ultimately making it more secure, Microsoft has unified all the sharing-related information and tasks onto one single screen.
SkyDrive: Improved file sharing
The result -- now when you opt to share a file and click on ‘Share’ in the command bar you will see different ways to share the item and those that you can share the content with. You also have the option to change the kind of access to your document (view only or edit) and also remove permissions.
The other major improvement being announced is the touch screen abilities. From here on in, users will be able to select and manipulate items by touching and swiping them to the left or right as they would with a new Windows PC.
The timing of this may be telling. Leaving aside the fact that Microsoft already offers a touch screen with Surface and RT, at the end of the month, rumors would have it, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be released (January 29 is being mentioned as the date).
While it’s hard to gauge whether this will result in an upswing in demand as the new combination will be more business-user friendly, accessing SkyDrive through Surface would be one of things that users are looking for, and easier and better touch-screen usability would definitely be icing on the cake.
In any case, whether there is any significance in the release date is debatable, but the end-effect is the same -- users will be able to pull files around as they need and even move them up and down the SkyDrive hierarchy using a bread crumb bar to navigate the move.
At the user-end, these are the main improvements for now, but there will undoubtedly be more in the near future. Microsoft has also said that it has been tinkering around under the hood and that the result of this will be a faster and more reliable SkyDrive.