There isn’t much that’s new other than the name. Current SkyDrive users got an email today offering 20Gb of additional storage space for one year free, which is nice, but that’s about it. (No sign of co-owned folders yet.)
The interesting part is what Microsoft has achieved by improving the SkyDrive/OneDrive apps for devices other than Windows computers in the last year. This page has charts comparing OneDrive to Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud, making a convincing case that OneDrive is the best cross-platform online file service. It just works, regardless of what device you’re using. A few points that set OneDrive ahead of the rest:
— There are OneDrive apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows Phone – more choices than any of the other services. An update for the Android app today allows it to upload photos from Android phones automatically, as it already does for Windows phones and iPhones.
— OneDrive works seamlessly with Office, completely integrated with online versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint that can be used in a web browser on any device. If you have Office 2013 installed on your computer, OneDrive is also integrated as the default storage location for your files in those programs. Google Docs has an online file viewer and permits simultaneous editing but using it on files created in Office programs – you know, the ones you use to get work done – is an exercise in frustration.
— Extra storage space on OneDrive is cheaper than the other services.
This is an interesting and subtle shift by Microsoft to address a new world in which Windows is overshadowed by iOS and Android devices. Expect to see more Microsoft services promoted across all platforms, including the Office programs themselves when tablet-sized versions are introduced later this year.
If you’re not using SkyDrive, you’re missing a treat. Once you become accustomed to having files available everywhere, it’s impossible to imagine going back to local file storage. Straighten out your Microsoft account, log into OneDrive, and upload some files. Install the OneDrive app on your phone and tablet and go look for the files, or check them out from the OneDrive web site on another computer. There are tips here to help you get started. (Oh, and if you’re using a Windows 8.1 computer, look down in the lower right corner. One of the updates on Patch Tuesday quietly restored the missing cloud icon that shows sync status.)