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Summary:

Microsoft isn’t taking the cloud storage challenge lying down. The company plans to build tight links between its Windows 8 and its SkyDrive cloud storage, making it easy for users running Windows 8 on tablets, PCs or phones to put their digital stuff on SkyDrive.

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Microsoft isn’t taking the cloud storage challenge lying down. The company plans to build in tight links from its upcoming Windows 8 client to its SkyDrive cloud storage, making it easy for users running Windows 8 on tablets, PCs or phones to store and access their digital stuff on SkyDrive fast and fluidly, according to post to the Building Windows 8 blog Monday.

While SkyDrive has been around for awhile, and claims 17 million users (and stores 10 petabytes of data), the bulk of the mind share around cloud storage has accrued to Dropbox, which at last count claimed 45 million users.

The blog, written by SkyDrive Program Managers Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, describes how Microsoft insiders have been using the Windows 8-SkyDrive tandem internally:

We clean install Windows 8 on a new PC and sign in, and all of our settings, browser history, and customizations just show up. In addition, one of the most important steps we take to make a new PC “ours” is to copy over our personal files – like documents and photos. With Windows 8, we wanted to make sure that your files would be instantly available and up-to-date as you move between PCs – without configuring add-ons or using a USB drive.

They also talk a little about how they’ve built the Windows 8 onramp to SkyDrive, the current iteration of which Microsoft describes as more a web site than a true cloud service.

 We built the entire app using modern web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5, and because of our recent updates to SkyDrive.com, we were able to use the same JSON APIs and JavaScript object model that the website uses. The only difference on Windows 8 is that we bind the results to modern controls that were built for touch. This is part of the reason it’s so fast, and the touch behavior works so well (and works on Windows on ARM too). Over time, we fully expect the Metro style app and SkyDrive.com to “converge” on functionality so there won’t be a question of which experience someone should use. When using Windows 8, the SkyDrive Metro style app will be the best way to browse and manage your SkyDrive.

“Metro” is Microsoft’s term for its tablet or phone interface.

Microsoft is expected to launch a consumer preview of Windows 8 at the Mobile World Conference next week in Barcelona.

Given the noise around cloud storage — from startups like Dropbox and Box, along with legacy behemoths including Microsoft and Google with its long-rumored Google Drive — look for the battle to rage on.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user redjar

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  1. Compare SkyDrive and LiveMesh with DropBox and you’ll see a clear case for Microsoft’s continued decline.

    SkyDrive and LiveMesh, combined, are similar to DropBox. But because MS hasn’t really integrated them, users who want to use LiveMesh to sync their data, LiveMesh can use only 5GB of SkyDdrive’s 25GB as backup capacity, and there is NO UPGRADE PATH. That’s right, Microsoft does not even give you an option for increasing this capacity, even while DropBox grows to a multi-billion-dollar valuation.

    It must make sense to someone inside of Microsoft. Probably for some political reason that both shareholders and customers would find ridiculous. But the company now forces the users most likely to pay for LiveMesh to move to DropBox.

    1. Thanks @Paul. I should have pointed out in the story that Live Mesh is the msft file sync app that lets users sync docs and files between devices while SkyDrive itself is online storage. And yes, Dropbox does both.

      1. Windows 8 is going to combine Skydrive and Live Mesh.

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