Today morning the SkyDrive team was excited. My twitter feed was filled tweets and retweets about what is a significant update to the service. Though not many talk about SkyDrive when talking about consumer cloud services, for the Windows ecosystem, SkyDrive is pretty sweet.
PDF? Here you go!
The latest update has several changes around usability that include right clicks, moving documents and renaming–an experience like on the desktop. As someone who uses SkyDrive a lot for keeping documents synced and accessible everywhere, the lack of PDF support annoyed me. Unlike Google Docs, Hotmail & SkyDrive needed me to download the PDF to view. Not anymore on SkyDrive. I can share and view PDF documents much like Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents on Office Web Apps.
My first reaction when I learnt about this was of joy. My second reaction was when will Hotmail bring in PDF support. As of now, a Word, Excel or PowerPoint attachment can be opened using Office Web Apps and no need of downloading the document. With the new SkyDrive update, I am certain that Hotmail will be getting the same too. I asked someone from the Hotmail team and got a positive response.
SkyDrive, the photo network
The other minor addition to SkyDrive which I really love is a tiny map showing geolocation. For those not cool enough to use a Windows Phone 7 device aren’t aware that you can automatically sync your photographs to SkyDrive and the native Twitter integration uploads shared images to SkyDrive. Along with all the other meta information of a picture (size, format, camera, date), SkyDrive now has a map with a pin of where the picture was taken. This takes SkyDrive a step closer to being a photo sharing network.
Making documents social
Collaboration is a key feature of cloud computing. Google Docs and Microsoft Office both offer shared editing and access to documents; Microsoft however, has been working on letting you bring your Facebook friends into this and reducing the sharing complications. In a labs project called Docs.com, Microsoft allows you to share documents on Facebook and set which Facebook friends of you have access to the document. Although Docs.com is a good product it did not catch the fancy of the Facebook user.
I wrote about Docs.com being on the chopping block an year ago; the latest SkyDrive update is another nail in Docs.com’s coffin. The new social sharing in SkyDrive has a limitation over Docs.com as of now. Unlike on Docs.com, a document I share on Facebook is open to all, a shortcoming I expect the SkyDrive to fix soon.
I can now share documents on Facebook, MySpace (yea, I know!) and LinkedIn. There is the usual sharing via email. The neat addition to sharing is you can get three separate links to a document for:
- View Only
- View and Edit
- Make it public