Micosoft launched SkyDrive for the Windows desktop, a synchronized service that allows users to drag and drop files and photos to the cloud, much like any other window. Microsoft also updated the SkyDrive apps on Windows Phone and iOS devices, bringing better management features and sharing options to those devices. The company also released a new preview client for OS X Lion. Support for Google's Android is missing.
Microsoft's timing is somewhat suspicious: both Samsung and Sony launching cloud services, and reports had tipped Google Drive to launch this week.
And Microsoft also rewarded loyal SkyDrive customers, while somewhat penalizing those who haven't taken advantage of its cloud-storage system. For those just signing in to use the SkyDrive app, Microsoft will give them 7 Gbytes of free storage, enough for "99 percent of people to store their entire Office library and share photos for several years," the company said in a blog post. Users can upload files up to 2 Gbytes in size.
But Microsoft will also allow those who previously signed up to take advantage of its previous offer: 25 Gbytes of online storage. Users who had previously uploaded any file by Sunday. April 22 will get 25 Gbytes of cloud storage to play around with. New customers can also purchase 20-, 50-, or 100-Gbytes of storage for $10 per year, $25 per year, or $50 per year.
"As we set upon the path to bring SkyDrive closer to Windows, we had a few goals that drove our plan," Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, group program managers for SkyDrive, wrote. "First, we wanted you to be able to 'get up and running' as quickly as possible, with very few steps. Secondly, we wanted to 'be quiet' on the system and make sure that all processing was entirely in the background, with your needs and your apps as the first priority. And third, we really wanted it all to 'just work' as you'd expect it to, staying up-to-date automatically, and humming along without confusing dialogs or pop-ups."
, when it said it would deliver a "fetch" service alongside a Windows 8 SkyDrive app. The new SkyDrive app comes bundled in the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 on Feb. 29, allowing users to access and store photos on their SkyDrive from other Windows 8 apps.