Microsoft SkyDrive aiming to outcloud iCloud

Beyond tight integration with Windows 8, SkyDrive could be due for a slew of new features and enhancements in its next version.

The new SkyDrive will integrate directly with Windows Explorer.
The new SkyDrive will integrate directly with Windows Explorer. Microsoft

Microsoft is targeting a host of improvements for SkyDrive, potentially giving iCloud and similar services some healthy competition.

The next version, dubbed SkyDrive Wave 5, could lead the way, with several features revealed by blogging site LiveSide.net.

Tipped off about "new features that are said to be coming to SkyDrive soon," the site detailed such items as support for the OpenDocument format and the ability to store and manage BitLocker recovery keys on SkyDrive.

A new URL-shortening service will provide links to your shared files, while you'll be able to share those files directly with your Twitter followers.

But one killer feature would be a new SkyDrive app for Windows and the Mac. Currently, the only way to access your SkyDrive content from your computer is through the browser. But the new desktop app would let you browse your SkyDrive files just as you're able to browse local files. And vice versa, the SkyDrive Web page would let you browse files among your local PCs.

Microsoft has already confirmed a Metro-style SkyDrive app and a desktop app for Internet Explorer slated for Windows 8. The new apps will integrate SkyDrive, letting users access their cloud-based content from any PC. But Microsoft didn't say if or how the new integration would work with prior versions of Windows or the Mac.

Asked about the rumored new features, a Microsoft spokeswoman said the company had nothing more to share at this time. But she did point to a Microsoft blog from last November as an idea of what the SkyDrive team envisions for the cloud service.

One other tidbit found by Engadget is a possible tiered pricing structure for SkyDrive.

Microsoft currently offers 25 gigabytes of storage for free. But users who need more might be able to pay $10 a year for an extra 20 gigabytes, $25 for an extra 50GB, or $50 for an extra 100GB.

Engadget is filing this in the rumor department, for now. But if true, it would certainly help SkyDrive trump the competition with low-price storage.

Set up as a standard file storage and syncing service, SkyDrive has always been a decent product, but its success has been hampered by certain limitations. It has also been lost amid other cloud-based storage services, including Dropbox, Box.net, and iCloud.

But with a new version of SkyDrive expected alongside the Windows 8 integration, Microsoft stands to win over a whole new crowd of users turning to the cloud.

Updated 10 a.m. PT with response from Microsoft.

 

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