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SkyDrive users gets a whole new app to play with on Windows, Mac, Windows Phone and iOS, while the cloud service expands with some paid-for storage options to help boost your web filing power.

SkyDriving For Real

The idea of giving away all that lovely cloud storage space for free (regardless of who is offering it) has always been a precursor to monetizing the service. So, it comes as little surprise to hear that Microsoft is finally offering a paid-for version of SkyDrive to go along with a new free 7GB offering.

Microsoft reckons that 7GB is enough for most users (99% in fact) with the paid options, +20GB for US$10 a year, +50GB at $25 a year and +100GB at $50 appealing to various levels of power users. Existing users who already had 25GB of free storage will get to keep it, the new plans take effect for new users or those upgrading.

A New Face in the Clouds

To harness all that space efficiently, Microsoft unveiled a number of new apps in a Windows 8 blog post. From Windows to smartphones and tablets, files can now be accessed from pretty much anywhere. The new desktop app lets Windows Vista users and up (bye, bye Windows XP unless you use the browser) access the service from within Explorer.

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SkyDrive is now available pretty much everywhere

Fetching files through SkyDrive.com, you can easily access, browse, and stream files from a remote PC running the preview app to just about anywhere by simply fetching them via SkyDrive. The smartphone apps for Windows Phone and iOS devices also get an update, bringing better management features and sharing options. Plus there's a new preview client for Mac OS X Lion, letting users manage their SkyDrive from Apple's Finder.

With Dropbox now offering account-free sharing of files, and everyone waiting for Google to unveil its Drive cloud storage offerings, the cloud storage market is becoming increasingly competitive and we can expect better free offerings and more competitive pricing, plus casualties as the battle heats up.