Learn Windows 8 Cloud SkyDrive Features, Apps and Desktop Experience

Sometimes in February, we talked about Windows 7 cloud apps like Mesh, Remote Access, PhotoFuse etc. But with Windows 8 Cloud SkyDrive, times have  changed. Now, not only your roaming apps get integrated with the Cloud, but the settings get pushed to different devices.

According to Mike Torris (Group Program Manager of SkyDrive), the latest trend is to have multiple devices. Even though the user has internet access, the data or files are stored on one device – a desktop PC, a laptop, or a USB key. This can be called a “place”.

Now by the magic of cloud computing, its possible to access all this data on various devices using the network connections. Apple and Amazon made this possible with their cloud services like iCloud and Cloud Drive. SkyDrive, the Microsoft variant, syncs the data with cloud storage and pushes to various devices automatically.

We already know that during installation of Windows 8, your Microsoft Account is associated with your PC. This is enabled through SkyDrive where you have to confirm your Trusted-PC or computer.

What SkyDrive can do through Windows 8 Cloud?

The three main SkyDrive capabilities that Microsoft talks about, are listed here:

  •    SkyDrive Metro style app on Windows 8
  •    SkyDrive files integrated into Windows Explorer on the desktop, and
  •    The ability to fetch remote files through SkyDrive.com

SkyDrive as an App in Windows 8

Just as you enter the Start Screen, you are greeted with the SkyDrive app.

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There may be times you formatted your PC or you are using multiple desktops. So every time copying your personal files – like documents and photos is a headache. So Microsoft made sure that by using SkyDrive you can update your settings and personal files with cloud integration.

Just as your browse your SkyDrive account on the web, the folders are listed on the desktop. You can upload files and create folders. But one drawback I found is in over-writing files. When I tried to copy the same file, instead of replacing the old file, a new file was created with numbering like 1, 2, 3 etc added to each copy of the file.

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SkyDrive Integration with File Explorer and the Desktop

With the new Windows 8, the old “Windows Explorer” has been aptly named “File Explorer” with ribbon interface. SkyDrive is available as a file picker. So from any app, you can open and save files to your SkyDrive, just like you browse your folders on your “My Computer”.

So what’s this advantage for app developers? Now app developers need not concentrate on additional work of saving and opening documents, photos, files from their apps to SkyDrive as long as it supports that feature.

You can just share and collaborate files with your colleagues with a click or tap. Instead of creating multiple copies of files as attachments, you can just share the file or folder location on SkyDrive.

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[Image Source : blogs.msdn.com]

Now coming to the desktop experience, the “SkyDrive application” or “SkyDrive client” is entirely different from the Metro or mobile app. With SkyDrive app, you can only view folders when you are online. But with “SkyDrive client” for desktop a separate SkyDrive folder is created under “Favorites” in Windows 7 or 8 desktop.

When online and SkyDrive client working, it syncs the cloud storage with the SkyDrive folder on Windows. So the advantage ? The files and folders in cloud will be available for offline purpose as well.

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There will be two results for “SkyDrive” apps when you search in Windows 8. But you should understand the difference between the Metro app and the desktop client. The other thing about the desktop client is that it uses very little CPU resources when SkyDrive is idle and also when there is file sync or transfer.

We shall talk about the third topic of fetching remote files with SkyDrive in another article. For now you should able to grasp the desktop and app features. Tell us your own experiences with Windows 8 Cloud SkyDrive in the comments sections and any problems you faced with its integration.

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