When Windows Phone 7 was launched, it included the ability to automatically upload pictures you take on the phone to SkyDrive. This was a great feature because technically, you don’t need to sync your phone to your PC and you have the peace of mind that in case your phone is lost or damaged, at least your digital memories are secure. Only, there were a few problems:
- The uploaded pictures were resized to a very small size. As a result, these were not true backups of the pictures.
- Videos were not included at all.
Windows Phone 8 improved this feature by adding more granular control over the automated backup. With Windows Phone 8, you could choose to automatically upload “good quality” over cellular network if you wish and “best quality” only over Wi-Fi. Additionally, Windows Phone 8 added the ability to automatically backup videos to SkyDrive as well. Although in case of videos, “good quality” and “best quality” both require a Wi-Fi connection. This was all good, except that this feature was not available in all the markets that Windows Phone 8 was available and as a result in markets where it wasn’t available, you couldn’t automatically upload best quality photos even over Wi-Fi.
This was such a silly omission that many customers (including yours truly) switched the region on the phone to US just to have this feature available. Until now. On May 8, Microsoft announced on their Windows Phone Blog that full-resolution photo and video backup was going to be available worldwide over the next few days. This is a great addition, and as the blog post seems to indicate, this restriction was more to ensure SkyDrive was able to scale properly than anything else. The re-imagined SkyDrive service is only about a year old even though the service itself is much older. With the number of photos we take on our phones exploding, and with the higher resolution cameras on smartphones, one can imagine that this feature would put immense pressure on SkyDrive as a service.
While this could have been communicated better, I do feel this is a feature that is better late than never. Microsoft has heard loud and clear how many of their services are US-focused and that in order to advance the ecosystem they will need to expand their availability geographically and that too, quickly. This is hopefully the first step in that direction, and one can only hope that Bing, Xbox Music, Xbox Video, Podcasts, etc. quickly follow suit.