OneDrive Updates Coming: Single Sync Engine for Consumer and Business, Shared Folder Sync, Selective Sync Everywhere, Mac Client for OneDrive for Business

OneDrive For Business
OneDrive For Business

Microsoft, in a post on the OneDrive blog, has made a bunch of roadmap related announcements for OneDrive (and OneDrive for Business). This is refreshing because until about a year ago, this kind of information was almost impossible to get unless you relied on insider information and rumors.

The background for this honest and direct blog post could be several reasons:

  • Enthusiasts who loved Windows 8.1’s OneDrive behavior with the placeholder files who are disappointed that Windows 10 Technical Preview does away with it.
  • OneDrive for Business users who have no choice but to sync their entire collection or nothing.
  • OneDrive customers who have been clamoring for a shared folder sync a la Dropbox.
  • Overall, OneDrive customers who see slight differences in how files sync across the variety of platforms OneDrive is on, which is pretty much every platform today.

So here are the changes coming to OneDrive, and timelines wherever Microsoft has provided:

  • Single sync engine across all platforms. This will be built based on the current Windows 7 and Windows 8 sync engines, which means users have to select which folders they want to sync at the time of setting up OneDrive app. Of course, this can be changed later, but this is in contrast to Windows 8.1’s sync engine which takes the entire OneDrive and creates placeholder files whenever the cloud-based file is not available locally.
  • Unified OneDrive app for consumer and business users on iOS (this is already available on the Windows Phone and Android apps). This is coming later in January.
  • Preview of Mac client for OneDrive for Business, coming later in January.
  • Sync shared folders, coming “by summer”.
  • Shared folders and support for consumer and business in a single client on Windows 10, coming in the first Windows 10 release.
  • Reliable and comprehensible replacements to the placeholder feature will come to Windows 10 later in the calendar year.

I like this post because it makes clear that Microsoft is aware of the customer pain points and are not only working on the features to reduce the pain, but also know when approximately they will make those features available to the customers.

If you want to provide feedback on OneDrive, you can conveniently go to their UserVoice site.

OneDrive Storage Goes Unlimited For Office 365 Subscribers

Remember when OneDrive bumped up their free storage tier and made the storage included with Office 365 1TB from the 25GB that it used to be? Well, that was only a few months ago. Now, as they announced on the OneDrive blog on October 27, Microsoft is making the OneDrive storage unlimited for Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers.

The upgrade to unlimited storage rolls out today and there is a priority list for those who would like to see it early. I was one of those, and I got an email later in the day that while the upgrade to unlimited is in progress, the storage in my Office 365 Home account is bumped to 10TB, ten times the current allocation of 1TB.

So now, a customer can potentially get the full desktop Office suite for a PC/Mac, unlock editing features for tablet (iPad), get 60 minutes of Skype world calling to over 60 countries, use Office Online and Office Mobile on smartphones and unlimited storage for only $6.99 per month.

The above deal becomes even sweeter when there is a need for more than one user to be on the subscription. In such a case, a customer can get Office 365 Home which provides the same features for 5 users for $8.33 per month.

This is another move in the trend for cloud storage to become virtually free, tied closely to other services that companies like Microsoft, Google and to some extent, Apple provide. Here’s what Microsoft’s blog post said:

While unlimited storage is another important milestone for OneDrive we believe the true value of cloud storage is only realized when it is tightly integrated with the tools people use to communicate, create, and collaborate, both personally and professionally. That is why unlimited storage is just one small part of our broader promise to deliver a single experience across work and life that helps people store, sync, share, and collaborate on all the files that are important to them, all while meeting the security and compliance needs of even the most stringent organizations.

While Microsoft and Google have been really aggressive with their pricing, Apple has been a little reserved in how aggressive they get with the storage pricing. However, the biggest impact of such pricing moves are the likes of Box and Dropbox. For these companies, storage is a key factor but for platform makers like Microsoft, Google and Apple, adding storage inexpensively is not a big deal. How will Box and Dropbox combat this move? Your guess is as good as mine.

OneDrive Updates: 10GB Files, Dropbox-like Sharing, More

OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, is getting better thanks to some top requested features being added to the service and its sync apps. In an announcement on the OneDrive Blog on September 10, Microsoft announced the following updates:

Large Files Support

Until now, OneDrive supported files up to 2GB in size but now customers can store files up to 10GB in size. This can be done through the desktop sync clients, mobile apps as well as from the web app. There are not too many “normal” uses where files would be more than 2GB in size, but some examples could be if you have digital downloads of HD movies or digitally downloaded software or Outlook PST files as examples.

Sharing directly from Windows Explorer

Dropbox has long had the ability to share a file stored in Dropbox from the computer directly, all reflecting correctly back to Dropbox service as a shared file. With OneDrive, until now, you would need to share it from OneDrive.com, unless you simply attach the file from the PC in which case it is not the same use case.

With the latest update, when you right-click on a file in Windows 7 and Windows 8, you get one more option which is to “Share a OneDrive link” which will create a link to the file and copy it to the clipboard. Once the link is created, it will be registered on OneDrive.com’s file properties as a shared file with the link. Curiously, Windows 8.1 and Mac updates are not ready yet, but will be coming soon.

OneDrive Share Link from Windows Explorer
OneDrive Share Link from Windows Explorer

Upload folders from OneDrive.com

With this update, OneDrive.com now supports uploading folders from the web app instead of just files. This includes dragging and dropping an entire folder in the web app to automatically upload it to OneDrive.

OneDrive: Upload folders
OneDrive: Upload folders

Faster syncing

Through some parallelization, Microsoft claims file sync (upload and download) improved threefold in their internal testing. Any improvement is welcome, so this is good news for those relying heavily on desktop sync clients.

As usual, these are good improvements and additions to an already excellent service. Do you have files more than 2GB which you could not sync until now? What were those files? Let us know in the comments below.

OneDrive Increases Free Storage and Office 365 Gets 1TB Free

On June 23, Microsoft announced several updates related to its OneDrive consumer-oriented online storage service including bumping up the free storage tier, reducing costs for purchasing storage dramatically, and adding 1TB to Office 365’s non-business plans.

OneDrive 1TB with Office
OneDrive 1TB with Office

Free Storage

While OneDrive (then called SkyDrive) offered 25GB free long time ago, Microsoft changed the free tierto be a then reasonable 7GB around the time of Windows 8 launch. The reasoning then was 7GB was higher than the competition at the time. Of course, as cost of storage has gone down, and as cloud services become more essential for ecosystems, Google and even Apple, have announced very inexpensive plans for their respective online storage services. Now, Microsoft matches some of the recent competitive updates by making the free tier to be 15GB.

Office 365 Personal, Home and University plans join the 1TB party

Microsoft had already announced that Office 365’s business editions would be getting 1TB of included storage (although that would be under OneDrive for Business, which is not the same product as OneDrive). With this announcement, Office 365’s non-business editions, which is Personal, Home and University, also get 1TB of included storage.

This makes Office 365 a pretty fantastic deal if you have the need for desktop Office, or if you want to be able to edit Office documents on the iPad. Not only does Office 365 now come with 1TB of storage, it always included 60 minutes of free Skype worldwide calling and of course desktop version of the Office suite, as well as edit rights for iPad version of the Office apps. If you have more than one person who needs Office, then Office 365 Home is a killer deal @ $99 per year for 5 users.

Office 365 Consumer Plans
Office 365 Consumer Plans

Reduced prices for additional storage options

Of course, as storage costs have gone down, each of the online storage providers have kept cutting their prices. OneDrive will no longer have the 50GB option since the $100GB option is now at $1.99 per month, down from $7.49 per month. An additional 200GB will be $3.99 per month, down from $11.49 per month.

These are great updates to an already useful storage service. As a reminder, OneDrive has a presence on all platforms, making it a truly universal online storage service: Windows 7, Windows 8.x, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OS. The price changes were not completely unexpected because it is much easier for a larger company with scale, to keep lowering costs to meet the competition’s prices. I wonder what this means to the likes of Dropbox and Box, especially the former, since it has long been the darling of consumers for being so easy to use, sync and share. With OneDrive (and Google Drive and soon, iCloud) being so front-and-center in those various ecosystems, it will be interesting to see how many consumers will decide to switch away from the smaller companies. We shall see.

Edit: An earlier version of this article stated that OneDrive is perhaps the only service with apps across all platforms. Dropbox and Box also have apps across all platforms. Author meant to say, only one among the big ecosystem providers, but the sentence has been modified to refer to OneDrive by itself.

(Images courtesy OneDrive blog and Office Blogs)

OneDrive for Business Now Offers 1TB per User

OneDrive For Business
OneDrive For Business

On April 28, Microsoft announced some updates to OneDrive for Business, the service formerly known as SkyDrive Pro. According to the blog post on Office Blogs:

 

First, we will be increasing OneDrive for Business storage from 25GB to 1TB per user.

Second, all Office 365 ProPlus customers will get 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage per user as part of their Office 365 ProPlus subscription.

Third, we’ll help organizations migrate data from their existing solutions to OneDrive for Business

The first update is huge. Not too long ago, SkyDrive Pro was providing only 7GB per user. When Microsoft announced the standalone OneDrive for Business offering, they also bumped up the default storage to 25GB per user. Now perhaps based on pressure from competitors like Google, they have made the default to 1TB. As always when there is competition, we as customers ultimately win.

Office 365 ProPlus is a service that provides always-up-to-date Office software to customers on a subscription basis. Until today’s announcement, it was purely an Office subscription. Now, it also comes with a truckload of storage space and more importantly, a sync solution that ensures that files are always in sync across devices.

The third item was not detailed but I suspect Microsoft will have some utilities to help migrate data from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and others to OneDrive for Business. We shall see.

The blog post goes on to describe the benefits OneDrive for Business offers in addition to pure storage amount and sync:

Native integration with Office documents: Enables people to discover content and collaborate with others in real time with efficient synchronization of changes and real-time co-authoring using Office Online.

Connected to what you need, when you need it: As cloud services like Office 365 get smarter and more personalized with Office Graph, OneDrive for Business becomes part of a connected productivity solution where content is discoverable, sharable and personalized for individual users, helping to increase personal and organizational responsiveness.

A trusted service: OneDrive for Business provides enterprise content management, compliance and admin controls, financially backed by the industry-leading Office 365 Service Level Agreement. We’ve made investments in manageability, security, auditing and information protection including rights management, data loss prevention, auditing, eDiscovery, legal holds, etc. and more that can work for OneDrive for business but also across SharePoint and Exchange.

Deep investment in certifications and infrastructure: We’ve invested heavily already in areas that are important for doing business in major vertical industries and geographies, such as FISMA, the EU Model Clauses, CJIS and more, many of which are detailed on our Trust Center.  Microsoft has industry-leading, cloud reliability and security and has made a massive investment in physical datacenters around the world, enabling us to deliver high availability and robust disaster recovery capabilities.

Scale through partners: Our 400,000 partners around the world can help customers get up and running quickly with OneDrive for Business as a standalone solution or with Office 365.

As you can see, OneDrive for Business is not a “dumb storage” service but it is in fact the center of a collaborative solution that is protected by certifications and service level agreements. Along with the huge partner network, which enables building innovative solutions on top of the storage layer, OneDrive for Business is now a serious contender for businesses of any size to move their data into the cloud.

Yahoo! Mail and Dropbox Join Hands to Solve the File Transfer Problem

The Internet is decades old, and has become an intangible force in our lives. However, it has failed to address a problem from decades ago — file transfer. Emails can be used to transfer files, but there is a size limit of 25 MB. There are file-hosting services, but they are unreliable and have speed limits and annoying popups. Currently, Dropbox is the best way to transfer files, but setting it up for the first time is a cumbersome process. There could not have been a better way to ridicule this situation than this xkcd.

file_transfer

So, how would you like the first and the last options from the above xkcd combined into one? That is exactly what Yahoo! Mail is planning to do. The Dropbox blog announces this partnership with simple reasoning,

Email attachments can be tricky: they’ve got file size limits, you can’t keep them updated, and when you add people to a thread, attachments are the first to get left behind.

The Yahoo! Mail-Dropbox integration will let Yahoo! Mail users add attachments to their mails directly from Dropbox and also save their mail attachments to Dropbox. The feature will be available globally for all Yahoo! mail users.

Yahoo! is getting serious about the one thing in which it still has a dedicated user base. Yahoo! Mail is the number #1 email service in the US, and this partnership will give Yahoo! Mail a competitive edge. While on one hand Dropbox will make more monetary benefits out of this integration, this is more of an aesthetic win for Yahoo! Mail.

Dropbox And Flipboard For Android Update Brings New Features And Bug-Fixes

The Dropbox app for Android has constantly evolved over the months getting UI changes, bug-fixes and new features as needed. Today, the Dropbox team for Android released the v2.3 of the app on the Play Store that brings certain much needed enhancements and changes.

The latest update to the app brings the ability to share several images at once as well as delete them. There are also minor tweaks and UI improvements throughout the app. Lastly, the most important change is the ability to organize all the photos that you have uploaded on Dropbox into albums.

As a Dropbox user who also uses their instant upload feature, this feature is like god-send to me.

Below is the official change-log of the update -:

In version 2.3:
* Easily share several photos at once
* Organize your favorite photos into albums
* Delete multiple photos at once
* UI improvements and updates throughout
* Lots of other little tweaks and bug fixes

Flipboard for Android also got a major update. The update brings support for Flipboard Daydream for all Android 4.2 users. The Daydream feature will allow Flipboard users running Android 4.2 to create a screensaver made of their Flipboard covers.

Below is the official change-log of the update -:

– Now with Flipboard Daydream for Android 4.2 users. Allows you to create a screensaver made out of Flipboard covers.
– Fixed accidental flip when trying to scroll.
– More bug fixes.

The update is already live in the Play Store and can be downloaded from here.

How to Enable Two-step Verification for Dropbox

Dropbox has been under fire more than once for their inability to protect user’s data. But now it looks like they are finally improving their security. Dropbox has now added an option to use two step authentication for all of its users. Here’s how to enable it.

First, login to your Dropbox account and open their Security page.

You will find a new option to enable two-step authentication in the bottom as shown below. It will be disabled at the moment. Click Change.

You will have to enter your password to proceed. Then you will see a webpage overlay like shown below. Click Get Started.

You can  choose to receive the authentication codes as text messages to your phone. Alternately, if you own a smartphone, you can use an authenticator app to generate authentication codes locally. Select the desired option and click ‘Next’.

Now if you selected the option to receive code via text message, enter your mobile number or if you chose to use the authenticator app, scan the provided QR code using any supported authenticator app.

When done, click ‘Finish’. You have now enabled two step verification for Dropbox.

You will have to download and install the Dropbox application for your OS again with the latest versions that support 2-factor authentication.

Dropbox, Flickr, Google Goggles, Friendcaster And Facebook for Android Updated

Some of the popular Android apps such as Dropbox, Flickr, Google Goggles, Friendcaster and Facebook were recently updated. Dropbox, Flickr and Google Goggles received pretty major updates, while Frindcaster and Facebook for Android got minor updates. Check out the complete changelog below.

Dropbox for Android:

Dropbox for Android was updated to version 2.1.10 and it brings video thumbnail support, UI improvements for the Android 4.1 Jelly powered Nexus 7 tablet along with bugs fixes and performance improvements.

Changelog:

  • Video thumbnails
  • UI improvements for Nexus 7 tablets
  • Open Dropbox files directly from other apps
  • Performance improvements and bug fixes

[ Download Dropbox from Google Play ]

Flickr for Android:

The latest version of Flickr for Android app is numbered 1.5.0 and it comes with a brand new user interface. It allows you to choose the camera for taking pictures and then apply filters. It comes with the tab bar similar to the iOS with individual notification, profile, photo, upload and explore tabs. The new Flickr app now allows you to edit the details on your existing photos. They have also included some important features such as pull to refresh, swipe between photos and improved search.

Changelog:

  • Explore the most interesting photos around the world
  • Edit details on your existing photos
  • Choose any camera installed on your device to take a photo
  • Improved Search
  • See HTML content in comments and descriptions
  • Pull down to refresh content on a screen
  • Bug fixes

[ Download Flickr from Google Play ]

Google Goggles for Android:

Google Goggles for Android has now reached version 1.9. The latest version allows you to search from camera even when the search history is disabled. It also support non-autofocus camera. Google Goggles now check the URL against a malicious URL blacklist and comes with a faster object tracking in continuous mode.

Changelog:

  • Search-from-camera no longer requires search history to be enabled.
  • Faster, more robust object tracking in “continuous” mode
  • When scanning a QR code that has a URL encoded:
  • The thumbnail of a page is shown
  • URL is checked against a malicious URL blacklist
  • More complete barcode coverage
  • Support for non-autofocus cameras
  • When Goggles fails to find an exact match – search for products that look similar.

[ Download Google Goggles from Google Play ]

Friendcaster for Android:


The latest version of Friendcaster fixes login issues along with widget button UI and white menu icon on white background. Android devices running on the latest Jelly Bean OS were facing issues related to account sync, which has been fixed in this update. The size of the update is 4 MB and the version is bumped to 5.0.9.8.

Changelog:

  • Fixes login issues
  • Jelly Bean account sync fix
  • Bug fixes for notifications
  • Widget button UI fix
  • Fix for menu icons being white on white background
  • Other miscellaneous fixes

[ Download Friendcaster from Google Play ]

Facebook for Android:

Facebook for Android has received a pretty minor update. Now, you can add photos as well as emoji to messages right from your Android smartphone. The latest version is numbered 1.9.8 and it brings the new option to create events from your Android device. It also comes with the new upload flow, which will allow you to share photos with a few seconds.

Changelog:

  • Easily create events
  • Share photos faster with a new upload flow
  • Add photos and emoji to messages

[ Download Facebook For Android from Google Play ]

Box Raises $125 Million to Dominate the Enterprise Cloud Storage Space

Box, the Dropbox for the enterprise, has raised yet another monster round of funding. It has announced a $125 million investment by General Atlantic Partners, at a rumored valuation of nearly $1.2 billion.

Box is one of the top enterprise cloud storage and collaboration services, and has grown at an explosive rate in the last couple of years. It has been expanding internationally and growing at a scorching pace, with enterprise sales up more than 200% year-over-year in the first half of 2012, and the average deal size almost doubling.

It has been adding data centers across the globe to support its expansion. It has more than 120,000 businesses signed up, and is used by individuals at 92% of the Fortune 500 companies.

Aaron Levie, Co-founder and CEO, Box, said:

“The confluence of cloud, mobile and social technology is transforming how every enterprise and individual manages information today. This new funding allows us to invest aggressively in the talent, technology and global expansion efforts required for Box to sit at the center of this shift and define the next generation of enterprise software.”

General Atlantic led this round with existing investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ Growth, New Enterprise Associates, SAP Ventures and Scale Venture Partners, as well as new investor Social+Capital Partnership. Gary Reiner, operating partner at GA, will join Box’s board of directors.

Box faces competition not only from other cloud storage startups, but also giants like Microsoft and Google, who are also eying the enterprise file sharing and collaboration space.

With this round, Box has now raised a total of $284 million.

via Box PR