In a recent blog post, Microsoft talked about its personal cloud storage plans which include Windows 8 and SkyDrive. Plans were detailed on what the company needs to do to improve its cloud strategy, with comparisons to its competitors.
Microsoft acknowledged that more mainstream users are embracing personal cloud storage as more types of devices are being bought and the ability to access content on those devices are becoming a necessity.
Microsoft recognized three groups of power users that desire personal cloud storage. College students, the first group, work from multiple locations and collaborate frequently as part of class. The second group, gadget fans, have at least three devices including smartphones, PCs, and tablets. They want to easily access their content across their devices. The third group, photo enthusiasts, have hundreds of gigabytes of photos stored on their PCs and need the ability to access them.
Microsoft identified several key concepts for enhancing personal cloud storage:
- Simple & secure
It would sync the files you have to the cloud and other devices. It would be simple enough to use to share files with anyone so you could finally stop emailing attachments. It would also protect your content using industry leading security measures. In short, you could trust it to “just work”.
- Straightforward and flexible storage limits
It should provide a modest amount of free storage for key scenarios. It should actually make it easy for customers to use this storage – and provide options to purchase more if needed.
- Work across any device
It would be built with the understanding that we want to have our content available anywhere, even if we use devices made by different companies with different operating systems. This is how important services like Hotmail and Skype work, and personal cloud storage should be no different.
- Cloud-enable the entire PC
While it’s critical to support all types of devices, it’s particularly important to connect the billions of PCs in the world to the cloud. The PC is the most popular smart device and stores most of the world’s personal content. A cloud tailored for this device would provide access to all of your content from anywhere, with no complex setup or configuration.
- Work with key apps and services to let you organize, collaborate, and share in new ways
It would work seamlessly and automatically with leading email, productivity, or photo apps to let you organize, collaborate, and share content in entirely new ways. It would also connect with the services you already use for sharing so that you could upload once and share the way you want. It would do all of this while supporting the files you use today and keeping you in control of your content.
- Connects people, content, and devices at scale
In addition to having the right features, the scale of a cloud itself can provide value for customers. Sharing and collaborating is more convenient when more people can connect to a given cloud. Also, people benefit from a cloud that connects content to more apps, and app developers prefer to integrate with clouds that have the most content and connect the most devices.
Microsoft mentions that Google Docs offers limited online tools and Dropbox tends to provide file conflict errors, as well as the need to have the right apps installed locally to view or edit docs. Microsoft also bashes the iCloud, stating that since less than 10% of iCloud users have devices all running the same operating system. "As a result, these people often need to stitch together different cloud services to meet their needs."
SkyDrive will be tightly integrated into Windows 8 requiring users to sign up for a Windows Live account if they don't already have one. Utalizing a Metro styled interface, SkyDrive will be faster and smoother giving easy access to content. SkyDrive will also allow Windows 8 users to save and sync certain applications and Windows settings across multiple PCs.