Over the weekend, there were two leaks revealing that a major SkyDrive update is in the works. The first one revealed that SkyDrive will be offering three tiers of additional storage — 20GB, 50GB, and 100GB upgrades to the existing 25GB for $10, $25, and $50, respectively, along with a desktop client for Windows and OS X — and the second revealed that SkyDrive will be getting URL shortening, direct sharing to Twitter, an increase of the individual file limit to 300MB (on par with Dropbox), support for OpenDocument formats, and the ability to manage BitLocker recovery keys. All in all, a pretty major upgrade showing that Microsoft is taking its cloud file storage service seriously.
With all of these new features in place, there’s still more that Microsoft should do with SkyDrive. Here are four of those things:
SkyDrive needs to be used as a hub for Windows Phone syncing and backup
Just as Apple did with iCloud, Microsoft needs to add the ability to seamlessly sync and back up files (including app data) to SkyDrive to its Windows Phone OS. Not only does Windows Phone lacks a proper backup solution in its current form, but Microsoft needs to cut the cord to the desktop with Windows Phones. It’s much easier to let the device automatically handle backups and syncing over having to manually do it. Not only that, but Microsoft would have an advantage over iCloud by offering an additional 20GB of free storage with SkyDrive.
Microsoft needs to phase out Live Mesh and let SkyDrive succeed it
Live Mesh, Microsoft’s current product that offers file storage in the cloud (and syncing amongst PCs and Macs) needs to be phased out. With the SkyDrive desktop client that’s being released, not only will this be a move towards better brand consistency, but it will also allow users to have 20GB of additional free storage on top of the available paid upgrade options. I think the brand consistency factor here is very important though. SkyDrive should be Microsoft’s entire consumer cloud brand. The one-stop shop for syncing files seamlessly through all of your PC, Mac, and Windows Phone devices.
SkyDrive should be a Twitter photo sharing service
Instead of just going to the extent of implementing direct photo sharing, Microsoft should work to get SkyDrive built into various popular Twitter clients. This will get its name out there and greatly increase usage if it does become popular. I think that before this could work though, Microsoft will need to make some significant improvements to the user experience and design of SkyDrive, which brings me to my next point.
The Windows Live online services are in dire need of a redesign
Please. There’s something about the current design of the services that’s highly unpolished. It lacks finesse, and Microsoft should do much better. With Metro sweeping through the company’s products, what must be done is obvious. Just as iCloud was designed as an iOS application, Microsoft should redesign Windows Live to look exactly as a Metro Windows 8 app would.
In conclusion, SkyDrive is a pretty awesome service that offers a way for Microsoft to better bring the cloud to consumers. Let’s hope that this is what they have in mind come the major update.