Cloud Computing Microsoft’s SkyDrive

A bird’s eye view of Microsoft’s SkyDrive


SkyDrive is finally here and appears to be Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive, iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive and popular services like Dropbox. However, this isn’t just another typical cloud storage solution, MS is rolling out a number of new features and approaches which might very well change how we look at cloud computing. Cloud Computing Microsofts SkyDrive

For starters, the interface between your cloud drive and your PC / Mac / device is very straightforward and simple. After you download and install SkyDrive, a folder will be placed on your desktop which acts as a sort of data hub between what’s stored remotely and what’s on your machine. Moreover, if you alter data in one location, it is also automatically updated in the other (how cool and useful is that?!) All in all, this is a very unique and convenient approach to storing important data in the cloud, very economical. Also, say goodbye to many of the technical data restrictions you have probably encountered while testing the earlier build of SkyDrive, many limitations have bee lifted.   

The actual UI (user interface) for SkyDrive has also been carefully designed to provide not only unparalleled control over your data, but also much faster, ore “controlled” access. Many users are actually reporting that synching between the cloud and their machines is very quick and smooth; likewise, uploads are very swift as well. Additionally, if you’re worried that SkyDrive might be a CPU hog, lay your fears to rest knowing that great care was taken to ensure that it wouldn’t interfere with user resources in any detrimental way.

On the mobile side of things, there is already an app available for the iPhone and the Windows phone (with an Android version coming soon) for users who want to integrate SkyDrive with these types of devices. This is actually a very handy and sensible thing to do, as having to manually synch up data over multiple devices and machines is not only time-consuming, but also error prone (and perhaps a bit old-fashioned).

SkyDrive can also be used in tandem with virtually any site, courtesy of JavaScript. Basically, SkyDrive is flexible and simple enough to figure that it can be used to accomplish any number of tasks or fill any data storage / access role. What’s more, representatives from Microsoft are saying that the SkyDrive API was purposefully designed to make it easier for app developers to integrate it into their products. Why is this important, you ask? Well, we already know that the cloud and mobile app markets are on fire in terms of sales and overall growth, but what many might fail to realize is just how useful some of these designs might turn out to be in the long run. For example, every single time that a new app hits the market (even those released by smaller organizations) it forces the big cloud developers and providers to examine new technology and perhaps even integrate it into emerging designs. In other words, there is a cumulative effect occurring when you take all of these budding apps into consideration. Together, these apps are servicing the demand of the public at large, and as we all know, when something is in demand it is usually indicating usefulness.

However, all is not perfectly rosy in the SkyDrive world; people are already taking note of the tough content restrictions imposed by Microsoft concerning the nature of your content. Believe it or not, users are complaining that they are losing access to all of their Microsoft accounts (Windows Live, Xbox Live, Outlook, etc…) because of service violations stemming from their SkyDrive accounts. What would cause a person to lose access you ask? Well, believe it or not, “indecency, offensiveness and nudity” are all being referenced in accordance with MS’s “code of conduct” policies (which apply to all online services).

They’re apparently very serious and all attempts to glean additional info and explanations about these slightly draconian policies are met with the same rehearsed responses. It’s entirely within reason to assume that this sort of oppressive approach to defining user content will undoubtedly lose Microsoft many potential customers. Likewise, if people are facing bans and losing access to their accounts based on quality of their content, it means that someone (or group) is actually tasked with physically monitoring and censoring user content. Perhaps we should be asking Microsoft for more information concerning security and the sovereignty of user data?

On the other hand, it’s not hard to see why MS might be trying to limit users’ ability to treat SkyDrive as a sort of “proxy” for pornographic, political or even illegal activities. Sure, they have legal documentation which might prevent them from being held responsible for the actions of their clients, but just imagine the damage that could be done if SkyDrive become associated with some nefarious event or criminal activity. So there’s “the other side of the coin”, in a manner of speaking.

Currently, SkyDrive is poised and ready for millions (if not billions) of potential users to take advantage of. In terms of pricing, SkyDrive is a real value; your first 7GB of storage are absolutely free, with a yearly service for an additional 20 GB and 100GB being priced at $10 and $100, respectively. Also, Microsoft isn’t taking a lazy approach to the SkyDrive project, they are actively looking for ways to increase its capabilities and expand its list of potential uses.

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