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.

Google Docs Adds A Research Sidebar, Makes Fact Finding Easy

Google Docs, Google’s cloud office suite recently integrated with Google Drive has added a research sidebar to its interface. The research sidebar allows you to select content from the document and find more information through the research pane or from the right click context menu. To use the research pane in Google Docs, either  select “research” from “Tools” or hit the keyboard shortcut “Control + Alt + R”.

The research pane lives up to its name and lets you perform quick lookups through Google web search and image search. I use Google Docs a lot for writing and sending documents and often I find myself lost in a sea of open browser tabs. This is because whenever I am writing something, I read about the subject and have to check facts, definitions, blog posts and so forth. This newly added research pane should speed things up, as I can simply select a phrase from the document and find more information about it, directly from the Google Docs WYSIWYG editor.

Here is how the research pane looks like:

research-sidebar

If you want to link to a webpage you found from the research sidebar, all you have to do is hover over the result and choose “Insert Link”. Google Docs’s writing assistant will automatically link the selected word to that webpage, so you can save three mouse clicks and focus on writing the document. The best part – search images from the research pane and add them through a simple drag and drop. No longer you have to open a new browser tab, head over to Google Images or Flickr, find an image, copy the URL, fall back to Google Docs, hit “Insert” and paste the URL. The research pane makes life easy so you can just focus on writing and researching.

The only downside I found is that the preview pane is not large enough to house an entire webpage, so that the content is readable. If the preview pane was just as big, it would have been awesome as I can read a webpage without having to switch browser tabs (which is a big, big distraction).

As of now, the research pane supports web search, image search, quotes and maps. YouTube Videos are out of luck

Watch the following screencast to see the research pane in action:

Save Gmail Attachments to Google Drive

Google introduced the much awaited yesterday giving users 5GB of free cloud storage. However, with that introduction it looks like has removed the option to save Gmail attachments in and only provides options to view the document and download it. This is definitely a pain since I could easily save documents to Google Docs without problems in the past.

Save Gmail Attachments to Google Drive

If you are like me and want that feature back, you can do that with a  . The "Gmail Attachments to Drive" extension allows you to quickly save Gmail attachments straight to Google Drive by clicking a link. This saves you a lot of trouble because you no longer have to open the file before saving it to Google Docs. Secondly, this extension allows you to store any type of files in Google Drive.

Also Read: Google Docs vs Dropbox vs SkyDrive

Once you install the you will see an additional link to save the file to Google Drive. Clicking on the link should open a new window and save the file to your Google Drive account. Currently the files are stored in the main folder of Google Drive. You can easily move it to custom folders by visiting your Google Drive account.

If you are a user, you can also save Gmail Attachments directly to your Dropbox account as well.

Google Drive Details Unveiled

We all know Google’s cloud storage service is expected to be officially announced any time soon. As it turns out, Google France got their time zones wrong or jumped the gun. In a post published on the Google France blog, Google’s VP Sundar Pichai shares features and details their yet-to-be-announced product. (The post has been removed.)

According to the blog post, here’s what Google Drive is all about:

  • Accessible at drive.google.com (not at the point of writing)
  • 5GB free storage space
  • PC, Mac and Android applications will be available (iOS not launch but soon; WP7, I doubt it)
  • It has paid expansion plans just like SkyDrive—25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month & 1TB for $49.99/month; expensive when compared to SkyDrive’s 20GB for $10 a year!
  • Google Drive will support 30 file formats including ability to open Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop files in the browser in addition to HD video streaming, PDFs etc. (this is probably their best feature!)
  • Google Docs integration
  • Searching for content uploaded is going to be a focus for Google

Frederic Lardinois writing for TechCrunch reproduced the entire Google France post. Quoting some of the details about Google Drive:

Google Drive, a centralized space where you can create, share, collaborate and store all your documents.

Next step in the evolution of Google Docs and functionality of downloading any material, Drive will allow you to live, work and play in the Cloud.

Keep your documents securely and access anywhere and any device connected to the Internet. All your documents are just … there. Whatever happens.

Encryption of data transfer between your browser and our servers, and check option 2 in time to prevent non-authorized access to an account by requiring users to log on returning secure code generated from their mobile phone

Drive is designed to work harmoniously with all the products you use – whether Google products or third party service. You can share your photos on Google Drive + and will soon be able to attach documents directly into your emails Drive Gmail.

Google Reader and Docs Get an Update; ICS Styled UI and Swipe Gesture On-Board

Google has just rolled out an updated version of Google Reader and the Google Docs app for Android.

 

Like in the recently updated Google+ app, the blue UI colors in the Reader app has been replaced by a grey color. The visual changes of the Google Reader app is hardly visible though. The app’s UI has been redesigned keeping in mind Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich’s magazine style UI, and now features a swipe gesture to navigate left or right. There are also new ICS Styled widgets. Surprisingly, Google has also removed some features from the app, which are now offered by the Google+ app.

The Google Docs app has also received a similar makeover. The main screen of the app now looks pretty similar to the Google+ app. Like the Reader app, the swipe to navigate gesture is present in this app as well. New ICS styled and prettier looking widgets are also on-board.

Android users can download the new Google Reader app from here, and the Google Docs app from here.

Now that Google has updated three of its apps, its time to update the most important and most used app by the users – the GMail app.  The GMail app shown in the Galaxy Nexus announcement looked absolutely stunning, and I cannot wait to try it on my Galaxy S2.

Google Docs Can Open Password Protected PDF

Since Google started out with , they have been adding a lot of new interesting features to the service to compete with the likes of Microsoft Office. Of late, the competition is really steaming up and Microsoft is battling to win back the online documents supremacy. However, Google’s integration of Google Docs with and their other services offers users an option to open and view documents, images and PSD files in their email without having to download them locally.

Open Password Protected PDF Files with Google Docs

I have been using the option to open documents and PDF files in Google Docs for quite sometime now. However, one feature I found missing was the ability to open password protected PDF files in Google Docs.

Also Read: Remove Password from PDF Files | Unlock Password Protected PDF Files

It looks like that the Google Docs viewer just got smarter (or that it was already but I noticed it now) and allows you to open password protected PDF files without having to download them to your local computer.

The new feature is currently available for PDF files only and I wasn’t able to test it with a regular word document which was password protected. Hopefully, Google should add a feature for other password documents soon.

Work With Gmail Offline!

I don’t know about you, but I think computing is getting a little too “cloudy”. Many companies are offering there software as a service and are pushing us toward “the cloud” for everything. Fortunately, Google has gotten their head out of the cloud long enough to realize we can’t always be in the cloud all the time. Google announced on the Official Gmail Blog today, a new application called “Offline Google Mail”.

“Offline Google Mail” is an app that can be downloaded for free from the Chrome Web Store and installed into Chrome. Here is the link if you would like to download it. Below you can see the web page on the Chrome Web Store. All you have to do is click the button that says “Add to Chrome” and it will begin the installation. It took me less than a minute to complete.

Chrome Store

Once you have the app installed, it will ask you if you want to use it to manage and compose email when you’re offline. Just click “allow”, and then “continue”, and you’re in business.

Allow Offline Gmail

The main window, pictured below, is sort of a dumbed down version of what you would see in  Gmail online. You have a list of your messages in a column on the left side of the screen and a preview area on the right side of the screen. You can compose messages offline and they will be sent when you are connected at a later time. You can even add labels to your messages offline.

Main Window

This is a great feature add on for Google products. I know there have been many times where internet access has been scarce for me. This made using Gmail very inconvenient as it didn’t have the offline capability. Now, I can add this new app to my laptop and can work in my “Offline Google Mail”. The good thing is it will seamlessly work in online and offline modes.

Google also plans to roll out similar products for Google Docs and Google Calendar. According to the blog post, it appears that Google Docs allows offline viewing now, but they haven’t implemented offline editing quite yet. If Google gets this perfected, I believe it will make them much more attractive to corporate IT.

I am encouraged by the fact that Google recognized the need for offline synchronization. While I think it is great that we live in a world where everything is accessible virtually anywhere, the reality is there are still a lot of dead zones when it comes to internet access. I hope this is a sign of many more good things to come from Google.

Dropbox and Google Docs Integration Coming Soon?

The folks over at Fusible tipped us that Dropbox might finally be bringing much requested feature of integrating to their service after they purchased few domains including DropboxDocs.com, DropboxDocs.net and DropboxDocs.org.

Dropbox

The request for Dropbox integration with Google Docs was first requested on their forums in February 2010 (forum post). However, despite rumors that made rounds in early 2011, there were no signs of the integration. Dropbox has definitely been one of the most popular file synching services in the market and was recently valued at $5 billion. They have also shown exponential growth growing from 4 million users to 25 million users in under a year.

However, unlike other services like Box.net, Dropbox does not allow users to store or backup their Google documents in the cloud. However, this might change considering that Dropbox purchased DropboxDocs.com, DropboxDocs.net and DropboxDocs.org on August 29th according to Whois records.

dropboxdocs_registration_info

Unless they plan to spinoff their own document service in the cloud, I am pretty convinced that Dropbox might soon rollout integration for storage with Google Docs in collaboration with Google itself. Integration with Dropbox would help Google stave off some tough competition from Microsoft’s Office 365 and get more users to their service.

We are not sure about a formal announcement yet, but expect that it might be made in the next few days . This would definitely be a good addition to an already excellent service. Do you use Dropbox? Do you think it’s integration with Google Docs might be useful to you? Do let us know through your comments.

So You Want to Kick the Google Habit? [Editorial]

Google-Logo

 

Google Everywhere

It is hard to go online today without touching one or more Google products or services. If it is not search, it may be email, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Docs, or Calendar. Google has truly blanketed us with their web-based app offerings. Heck, even the Google Doodle is a conversation topic!

In this editorial, I shall discuss how you can kick the Google habit, what I am using now as alternatives and why you probably won’t be able to replace certain Google products today. Ready to move away from Google? First, some background.

Why un-Google?

Some of the reasons I personally decided to look for alternatives:

  • Google became a part of virtually everything I did online. I used GMail, Google Reader, Google Finance, Blogger, Picasa, Picasa Web, Google Docs, Google Search, Google Calendar and Google Maps. I felt uncomfortable putting such a large portion of my online life in Google’s hands.
  • Google morphed from the cool little startup building fun stuff for consumers, to a dominant public company whose revenues essentially came from just one product. That’s the key most (96%) of its revenues (and profits) came from search advertising. In other words, it needed other ways to make money. The most obvious way to do so would be to extend the arm of advertising, their main revenue-generating product, into other products. I realized I was the merchandise.
  • Google seemed to get Apple and Facebook envy. Apple was growing rapidly across all their product lines and at very high profit margins, and Facebook was taking eyeballs and key talent away from Google. This led to some bad attempts to mock Apple and Facebook publicly, which of course delighted the Google developer and enthusiast community but came off as being negative to me. If you make a great product, you don’t need a negative campaign.
  • Aside from philosophy, some of the competing products started becoming better, and Google’s products started getting worse (more on that within my descriptions) prompting me to start Project Un-Google which was an effort to use fewer and fewer Google products, hopefully reaching a point where I did not depend on any Google product at all.

Whether it is for philosophy, or hedging your web app bets, it is good to know there is life outside Google when it comes to products and services online and offline. There is usually a strong resistance to change, especially if you have a long history with a product. There is a high cost for transferring the old stuff, and learning your way around a new product/service. However, these challenges are not insurmountable, and I hope you take a look at some or all of the products I list here as an alternative to Google. If you have ideas of other products I may not have mentioned, please let me know!

Popular Google products

Here are some of the Google products/services I will be comparing to competition:

  • Search
  • Picasa
  • GMail
  • Calendar
  • Documents
  • Groups
  • Finance
  • Blogger
  • Chrome
  • Maps/Directions
  • Talk/Chat/Voice

I realize Google has many more products, appsand services, but I did not look at products like Book Search which are very niche. My attempt here is to look at the commonly used products and services only.

Google Docs Introduces Document Statistics And A Better Discussion Pane For Comments

google-docs-logoNot many people are aware of a very useful feature in Google Docs the ability to comment on a document and start a discussion thread revolving around the document.

Let’s say you have created a simple word document on your Google Docs account and have shared it with your team members. When your team members have the access privilege to edit the document, they can pull down the Insertmenu and add a comment to any section of the shared document. The comment can be added to particular section of the document and other users can reply to the comment or start a new discussion on another section of the document, which is nice and useful for novice people who have little HTML skills for operating a private Wiki e.g Mediawiki.

Here is an example discussion which shows how Google Docs discussion threads actually look like:

discussions1

As you can see, multiple people are engaging in a discussion and the owner of the document can delete particular comments or request the commentators to edit their previous comments (if required). This is a really handy feature which is ideal for developers, web workers and designers who need a central place to plan their projects, while keeping everything private and archived for future reference.

But what about statistics and analytics of your Google docs documents? There is no way to find out whether people are actually opening a shared or public document stored on your Google Docs account, how many hits it receives during the week and what is the activity of your document on weekends?

Thankfully, it’s now possible.

Google has just rolled out support for statistics and document insights in Google Docs which means   you can now see the last 7 day activity of Google docs documents. All you have to do is hit the Discussionsbutton and click the Document statslink, you would then be able to find out whether your document is receiving a good number of hits or lying stale without eyeballs.

Here is a brief preview of how the document statistics pane looks:

google-docs-document-stats

From the above screenshot, the features included are pretty basic as of now. The document stats pane shows the number of pageviews your document has received and the number of discussions on a particular day of the week. Just below the document stats pane, there is the comment box where all the shared users can post a new comment or reply to an existing comment that has been already posted.

Additionally, Google docs has revamped how email notifications of new comments are delivered. Instead of sending the entire discussion in reverse chronological order, Google Docs now sends you the selected text and most recent comment, with the full thread in chronological order.

4discussionsemail

So you won’t receive the entire discussion thread on your inbox, whenever someone posts a new comment. Instead, only the most recent comment will be emailed to you and all other shared members of the document. Replying to the comment works fine as earlier hit the Replybutton, type your comment and hit Send. The reply will be posted directly on your Google Docs document.

More updates are on their way as Google plans to make sure their online office suite stands out from it’s close rival Microsoft Office 365.