Skydrive Updates: Timeline View, Faster Uploads, Thumbnails

On May 13, Omar Shahine announced a collection of updates to SkyDrive on the Inside SkyDrive blog.

The most visible update is of course a new view of your SkyDrive content — Timeline View for photos. With this view, which was going to be rolled out over 48 hours, you can see all your photos across all folders and sub-folders in a timeline view. This is very handy because you may have created many photo albums and if you are looking for a certain picture from a certain time in the past, now it is really easy to click through to find the said picture.

SkyDrive Timeline View
SkyDrive Timeline View

The timeline view allows you to see a general timeline listing and then, by clicking on a month name you can quickly browse through the various months where there are pics in your SkyDrive collection. Clicking on a month name will show all the photos with a timestamp of that month.

SkyDrive Timeline View - Month
SkyDrive Timeline View – Month


In addition, Microsoft also announced that they have improved the performance of the SkyDrive desktop application. They claim, per their internal tests, that the upload times are now 2-3x faster than before.

Another minor update was made to the thumbnail layout in SkyDrive, and also, new support now for PowerPoint and Word files.

SkyDrive Thumbnail Layout
SkyDrive Thumbnail Layout


Finally, related to SkyDrive, earlier they announced that from Windows Phones, the auto-uploading of full-resolution pictures and videos is now going to be possible in all markets and not just the US. It is quite astounding actually, that the auto-upload was not yet in place for most of the world. Anyway, it is better late than never.

It is very clear that the teams are on a rapid release schedule of some sort because we have seen consistent updates from them over the past several months. Now that the transition from hotmail to is complete, I am hoping we will see some key missing features (music support on SkyDrive, video support in the timeline view, etc.) also implemented in short time.

What do you think of the SkyDrive updates? is out of Preview, Said to Have 60 Million Users

In a blog post (and in interviews), Microsoft announced on February 18th that their new webmail service is coming out of preview. Microsoft claims has 60 million users, which makes it the fastest growing service.

In an interview with The Verge, Dharmesh Mehta, Senior Director of said that about a third of users came from GMail. While this number does not include true switchers, it does show that the service did pique the interest of many GMail users. The real success of the service will be determined by how it is able to retain those users who came from GMail, as well as of course attracting users from other services.

Another point made by Mehta was that all the time while was in preview, they were focused on scaling and tuning the performance so that they can handle the loads which would inevitably come when they start migrating existing Hotmail users over to the new service. This is going to start from the 19th and after sending emails and alerting the users, at some point the migration will happen automatically. Microsoft expects this process to complete by the end of summer.

Now that they are out of preview, Mehta said that they will focus on enhancing the features of the service. I look forward to some of the missing pieces in the service like:

  • Calendar: The beautiful interface (inspired by Metro design principles, and made for touch-friendly devices) extends from email, to contacts (People) to SkyDrive. The one service which has not seen the new coat of paint is Calendar and boy does it stick out like a sore thumb. The calendar needs to be updated quickly.
  • 2-factor authentication: When launched in preview mode, the team did some interviews and even a Reddit Ask Me Anything. When asked about 2-factor authentication like GMail and many other services use, the Outlook team said they don’t have it because most normal users don’t use 2-factor authentication because it makes sign in too complex. Instead, they claimed, they have a one-time password that gets sent via SMS, to use when accessing the service at an unknown PC. I don’t think that is a great substitute for 2-factor authentication. If Microsoft feels it is too complex, they should have an equivalent solution so that hackers cannot easily hack into email accounts.
  • Logged in activity: Continuing with the security trend, GMail also offers a nice snippet of IP addresses which are logged in to the GMail account at any given time, with the feature to remotely log any of those connections out. There is no such feature in Another very nice feature available in GMail is a notification upon login that there was activity from places like China on the GMail account, potentially signalling an impending hacking attack. These days, it is better to have such measures in place than regret a hacking later, so it would be very nice if can adopt some of these security features in the service.
  • Spam filtering: While’s spam filter is great, I am not a big fan of blocking senders to mark an email as spam. This is especially true when there is a limit on how many senders can be in the blocked sender list. Instead, a message should be marked as spam and the anti-spam engine can then make an intelligent guess about the sender *and* the content of the message for future use. Similarly, moving a message to the Junk folder should trigger the same action as marking a message as Junk does, and that is not happening today.
  • Mobile apps – “Send email as”: What I love about among many other things, is the ability to collect emails from multiple accounts and use it as the only email service. On the web, I am able to decide which of the email addresses I want to use to send messages from, but that is not true with mobile apps. Even on Windows Phone, the email app is unable to send a message from a sender which is different from my account. Hence, when I want to send a message from my GMail address via my phone, I am unable to. I know part of this problem lies with the Windows Phone team, but since and Windows Phone are both from the same “team”, I as a user of both those services should expect things to just work. They don’t.

Let’s see how quickly these (and other) features get included in the service. I am looking forward to the massive marketing campaign for the service that is about the start soon. Unlike the negative Scroogled campaign, this one seems to target all the things that are great about, which is always a nice way to get your message out. See some of the upcoming ads below.

This one talks about Sweep feature:

This one is “Get Going”:

SkyDrive’s New Logo Official, Breaks Away From Windows Live Branding

As Microsoft is rebranding Windows Live it looks like the common golden swish across the products will go away. Without a doubt, SkyDrive is now a first-class citizen in Microsoft’s product line-up. Consistent updates to the service, integration across Windows Phone & Windows, cross-platform availability are some signs of how Microsoft sees SkyDrive integral to their future.

During Microsoft’s Surface announcement, Michael Gillet pointed out the new SkyDrive logo and now Microsoft has applied to trademark it. For those who’ve been following Windows Live would know that around Wave 3, the icons introduced a golden swish for all Live products and this followed into subsequent designs. Here is the current SkyDrive icon:


Here’s the new logo as shown on Surface:

The trademarked icon:

The difference is small but for those following Microsoft, goodbye Windows Live, your golden touch will be missed. (The clouds have been moved around too.)

Tweets Published From Windows Phone Now Say ‘via Microsoft’

It seems like Microsoft are already working to dissolve the Windows Live branding in even the littlest details: Moving forward, when tweeting from your Windows Phone, the client used will display as “via Microsoft” instead of “via WindowsLive” as it had in the past. Now, on the basis of the lack of spacing between “Windows” and “Live”, this is already a welcome change. However, in the process of eliminating the Windows Live branding from here, they have proceeded to choose yet another inappropriate label.

I mean what, are they going to phase out the email address in favor of email addresses now? When I stumbled upon this in my Twitter stream yesterday, I initially thought that this was some sort of secret ‘Softie client, or some internal beta client that they were using. But nope; as Metro Powered pointed out, they simply changed the client name. I think that ‘via Windows Phone’ would make far more sense here.

This is downright confusing. However, it will give Windows Phone owners the fuzzy, warm illusion that they are actually tweeting from Microsoft’s Redmond mothership.

With 500 Million Active Users, Windows Live Being Morphed For Windows 8

As of today, Windows Live is a suite of software that complement Windows Vista and Windows 7. The suite includes a mailing client, a messenger, a cloud file sync tool, a photo gallery tool and a video editing too. All the products have so far been known as Windows Live <product name>; with Windows 8 this will change. In an update on the Windows Team Blog, Chris Jones from Microsoft talks at length about the future of the Windows Live brand and products.

Long story short, the Windows Live brand will be on its way out once Windows 8 comes out. To replace the existing Windows Live utilities on the desktop, Windows 8 have Metro based replacements. Here’s a chart from the team blog explaining the transition:

(I’m not sure why have a Photos app and a Photo Gallery app in Windows 8.)

I believe, the suite will continue to exist for some time since there are a handful of Windows 7 users out there, somewhere. The other interesting part of Chris Jones’s blog post was numbers. According to Jones:

  • There are 500 Million active Windows Live users
  • Active user means they either send an email using Hotmail, or an IM via Windows Live Messenger, or upload a file to SkyDrive, at least once in a month
  • Hotmail has 350 Million active users, with 105 Petabytes of storage
  • Messenger has 300 Million active users
  • SkyDrive has 130 Million users (17 Million upload files every month. Part of these will definitely be Windows Phone users who use the service to share photos.)

Live@Edu for 7.5 Million Users–Microsoft’s Biggest Cloud Deployment Ever!

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the governing body for technical education in India as part of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, has adopted Microsoft Live@edu as one solution amongst many such initiatives with IT majors and Industries. The cloud adoption with an aim to improve technical education and prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow would see deployment over the next three months to more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India.


Live@edu is a hosted communication and collaboration service that offers email, Microsoft Office Web Apps, instant messaging and storage to AICTE’s more than 7 million students and nearly 500,000 faculty members, for a total reach of 7.5 million users. The numbers clearly make AICTE Microsoft’s largest cloud customer ever. The implementation is managed by Microsoft and a set of Live@edu partners. Full deployment is expected to be complete by summer 2012. In 2010, Microsoft rolled out Live@edu to some 700,000 students in Kentucky, United States which was considered the largest cloud deployment in the US at that time.

“India is seeing rapid economic activity and growth. Developing India’s youth and their skills is going to play an important role in the country’s inclusive growth. The PPP model (public-private partnership) is most essential in running and managing training institutions to address the skill gap most efficiently. I congratulate both AICTE and Microsoft on this significant milestone.”

– Mr. Kapil Sibbal, Union Minister for HRD

Live@edu is the first step in cloud computing for AICTE, as it further plans to deploy Microsoft Office 365 for education when it becomes available later this year. AICTE believes that the cloud deployment will expand students’ access to high-quality technical education and collaboration and is a step in supporting broader educational reforms. In India, both the higher education and IT industry are becoming increasingly vital to the economy.

“Microsoft’s cloud platform will make for a truly progressive ecosystem and contribute to the country’s technical education by providing a better communication and collaboration platform for institutes and students.”

– Dr. S. S. Mantha, Chairman, AICTE

Live@edu is the leading cloud suite for education, with more than 22 million people using the service worldwide (Google’s similar offering has around 14 million users) in more than 10,000 schools in over 130 countries. Live@edu is a no-cost hosted platform for student communication and collaboration. It provides students with the professional tools to prepare them for college or work and is easy to set up, administer, and manage.

Short: Microsoft Push Out Minor Windows Live Essentials Update

On Tuesday, Microsoft released an update for the Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite of software: Windows Live Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Family Safety, Writer, and Mesh. While the update doesn’t introduce much in the way of features, it is pretty important to update. Microsoft stated in a blog post that the update “contains critical fixes”, and, as a result, Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7 users will see a notification prompting them to update.

The update is available in 48 languages, so pretty much all Windows Live Essentials users will be able to take advantage of it. While we don’t know much of what this update actually does, we do at least know the build number for those of you keeping count: 15.4.3555.0308. I do wish they released a changelog, I’m genuinely curious about what the update has to offer now. Various commenters on the announcement blog post concur.

Whatever the case, though, you should just update because it seems important.

Windows Live Now Connects to Google Contacts: Google Talk Coming to Windows Phone and Windows 8?


Liveside has reported today that it is now possible to connect Windows Live to Google, and at this point it allows access to Google Contacts from within Windows Live.

I tried this myself, and I can confirm that I am able to link my Google account to my Windows Live account. It allows a two-way sync between Google Contacts and Hotmail Contacts. Hotmail Contacts provides the ability to see a contact’s information across all the services they are connected to, so now when you search for a contact you will see their information flowing in from all major “address book” databases – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and of course your local Hotmail contacts.

Google connected to Windows Live

The Windows Live team recently moved away from trying to integrate with various services (like they did with Yahoo! Messenger) and instead, chose to just “link” to them using open standards. As a result, they are able to easily and quickly increase not just the breadth of the offerings but also the functionality they provide through the various services. So while the current link to Google only allows access to Google Contacts as of now, we could potentially see the addition of presence and feeds like they can do with Facebook Chat and Facebook updates (and similarly, across the many other services).

Could this be in preparation for native support of Google Chat/Google Talk in Windows Phone’s People Hub? Given that Windows 8 is going to have a similar “People” tile which will be linked to your Windows Live ID, could this be in preparation for Windows 8? What about the previous rumor that Google+ would be a native service in Windows Phone like Facebook is today? This linkage would be required in order to support any such functionality.

Regardless of what’s in store, all of which is pretty exciting, at this point it seems Microsoft is serious about making sure no matter what your choice of service is, Windows Live, Windows Phone and Windows 8 support it. You have one less reason to stay away from the Windows ecosystem now.