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Microsoft SkyDrive, as appears in a web browser
|Type of site||File hosting service|
|Available language(s)||94 languages; see § Supported languages|
|Launched||August 1, 2007|
SkyDrive (officially Microsoft SkyDrive, previously Windows Live SkyDrive and Windows Live Folders) is a file hosting service that allows users to upload and sync files to a cloud storage and then access them from a Web browser or their local device. It is part of the Windows Live range of online services and allows users to keep the files private, share them with contacts, or make the files public. Publicly shared files do not require a Microsoft account to access.
Following a lawsuit from the British television broadcaster BSkyB over the use of the word "Sky", Microsoft agreed in July 2013 to rename the SkyDrive service within a "reasonable period of time". Microsoft announced on January 27, 2014 that SkyDrive will be rebranded as OneDrive.
On its launch, SkyDrive, known as Windows Live Folders at the time (with a codename of SkyDrive), was provided as a limited beta available to a few testers in the United States. On August 1, 2007, the service was expanded to a wider audience. Shortly after, on August 9, 2007 the service was renamed Windows Live SkyDrive and made available to testers in the United Kingdom and India. As of 22 May 2008[update] SkyDrive was available to 62 countries and regions. On December 2, 2008, the capacity of an individual SkyDrive account was upgraded from 5 GB to 25 GB, and Microsoft added a separate entry point called Windows Live Photos which allowed users to access their photos and videos stored on SkyDrive. This entry point allowed users to add "People tags" to their photos, download photos into Windows Photo Gallery or as a ZIP file, as well as viewing EXIF metadata such as camera information for the photos uploaded. Microsoft also added full-screen slide show support for photos using Silverlight.
SkyDrive was updated to "Wave 4" release on June 7, 2010, and added support for Office Web Apps, offering versioning support. In this update, due to the discontinuation of Windows Live Toolbar, the ability to synchronise and share bookmarked Web links between users via SkyDrive has also been discontinued. However, users were still able to use Windows Live Mesh, which replaced the previous Windows Live Favorites, to synchronize their favorites between computers until its discontinuation in February of 2013.
In June 2010, users of Office Live Workspace, released in October 2007, were migrated to Windows Live Office. The migration included all existing workspaces, documents, and sharing permissions. The merger of the two services is a result of Microsoft's decision to merge its Office Live team into Windows Live back in January 2009, as well as several deficiencies with Office Live Workspace, which lacked high fidelity document viewing and did not allow files to be edited from within the web browser. Office Live Workspace also did not offer offline collaboration and co-authoring functionality – instead documents were "checked out" and "checked in," though the service did integrate with SharedView for real-time screen sharing.
On June 20, 2011, Microsoft overhauled the user interface for SkyDrive, built using HTML5 technologies. Microsoft also doubled the file size limit from 50 MB to 100 MB per file, as well as adding new features such as caching and hardware acceleration, support for HTML5 videos, Quick views, cleaner arrangement of photos, infinite scrolling. This update also brought together the different entry points for SkyDrive, such as Windows Live Photos and Windows Live Office, into one single interface. Files and folders shared with a user, including those in Windows Live Groups are also accessible in the new interface. On November 29, 2011, Microsoft updated SkyDrive to make sharing and file management easier, as well as HTML5 and other updates. This update also allowed users to see how much storage they had (and how much they had used), a feature that had been removed in the previous update as part of the redesign.
On December 3, 2011, Microsoft released a SkyDrive for iOS app, and a SkyDrive for Windows Phone app, which are available in the App Store and Windows Phone Marketplace respectively. On April 22, 2012, Microsoft released a SkyDrive desktop app for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and OS X users which allows them to synchronize files on SkyDrive, much like Windows Live Mesh, as well as allowing users to "fetch" files on their computer via the web browser. In addition, SkyDrive also provided additional storage available for purchase, and reduced the free storage space for new users to 7 GB (from 25 GB). Existing users were offered a free upgrade offer to retain their 25 GB of free storage. The updated SkyDrive also supports files up to 2 GB in size (uploaded via the SkyDrive desktop app). The update also brought additional features such as Open Document Format (ODF) support, URL shortening services, and direct sharing of files to Twitter.
On August 14, 2012, Microsoft announced a new update for SkyDrive which brought changes and improvements to SkyDrive.com, SkyDrive for Windows desktop and OS X, and the SkyDrive API as part of Live Connect. For SkyDrive.com, the updates brought a new "modern" design for the web service consistent with Outlook.com, and along with the UI update the service also received improvements such as instant search, contextual toolbar, multi-select in thumbnail view, drag-and-drop files into folders, and sorting improvements. For the SkyDrive for Windows desktop and OS X applications, the update brought new performance improvements to photo uploads and the sync experience. The update also improved the SkyDrive API with the removal of file type restrictions, ability to upload images in their full resolution, as well as a new SkyDrive file picker for opening and saving files. On August 28, 2012, Microsoft released a SkyDrive app for Android on Google Play store. On September 18, 2012, Microsoft also introduced a recycle bin feature on SkyDrive and announced that SkyDrive will support the creation of online surveys via Excel Web App.
Microsoft became involved in a lawsuit with British television broadcaster BSkyB for having the word "Sky" within its name, resulting in a High Court ruling in June 2013 that the service's brand breached BSkyB's trademark. On July 31, 2013 in a joint press release between BSkyB and Microsoft it was announced that a settlement had been reached and as a result the SkyDrive name will be dropped. BSkyB has said that they will allow Microsoft to continue using the brand "for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand".On January 27, 2014, Microsoft announced that "SkyDrive" and "SkyDrive Pro" (an unrelated service with similar brand name) are to become "OneDrive" and "OneDrive for Business".
The service offers 7 GB of free storage for new users and, for one year, an additional 3 GB of free storage to students. Additional storage is available for purchase. Users who signed up to SkyDrive prior to April 22, 2012 could have opted-in for a limited time offer of 25 GB of free storage upgrade. The service is built using HTML5 technologies, and files up to 300 MB can be uploaded via drag and drop into the web browser, or up to 2 GB via the SkyDrive desktop application for Microsoft Windows and OS X.
From September 23, 2013 onwards, in addition to 7 GB of free storage (or 25 GB for users eligible for the free upgrade), power users who require more storage can choose one of the three price plans:
|SkyDrive +50||Adds 50 GB to free storage amount|
|SkyDrive +100||Adds 100 GB to free storage amount|
|SkyDrive +200||Adds 200 GB to free storage amount|
|SkyDrive +500||Adds 500 GB to free storage amount|
Earlier available storage plan SkyDrive +20 is not available since the date.
Depending on the markets, users may need to have a supported credit card or PayPal account to pay. The paid storage plan will be renewed automatically each year unless Microsoft or the user cancels the service. When the user cancels the service before the term ends, the service will remain active until the end of the term. In effect, the user is not cancelling the service, but rather the automatic renewal.
Microsoft added Office Web Apps support to SkyDrive in its "Wave 4" update allowing users to upload, create, edit, and share Microsoft Office documents directly within a Web browser. Users can create, view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents within the Web browser. In addition, Office Web Apps on SkyDrive also allow multiple users to simultaneously co-author Excel directly within the web browser, and co-author OneNote documents with another web user or the desktop application. Users can also view the version history of Office documents stored on SkyDrive.
Users of recent versions of Microsoft Office (for Microsoft Windows or OS X) can use the desktop applications to simultaneously edit the same section of documents stored on SkyDrive. Changes are synchronized when users save the document, and where conflicts occur, the saving user is given the selection to choose which version to keep. This is a collaborative real-time editing suite, as multiple users can use combinations of desktop applications and web apps to edit a document.
Microsoft OneNote users can sync one or more of their Notebooks located on Windows hard drives using SkyDrive. Once a Notebook is selected in the OneNote File tab to Share on Web or Network, SkyDrive copies the Notebook from the user's hard drive to the SkyDrive server, and that server copy then becomes the original for all future changes made on the PC or any other remote device that accesses it. The originating copy remains on the user's hard drive but is no longer updated by OneNote. To cease syncing and using SkyDrive for the Notebook, the user retrieves the Notebook from SkyDrive by viewing the Notebook Properties, and Changing Location from "d.docs.live.net/…" back to their local hard drive. However, unpredictable results occur, including a crash of the OneNote app and loss of Notebook data, if the folder containing the returned Notebook sections is not renamed prior to the return of the sync'd Notebook folder which will be written by SkyDrive to the selected location with its original name. Under such circumstances, re-sharing the Notebook to SkyDrive may result in recovery of the lost data.
SkyDrive supports viewing of Portable Document Format (PDF) as well as Open Document Format (ODF), an XML-based file format supported in a number of word processing apps including Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, and Corel's WordPerfect. SkyDrive's search function does not support search within PDF documents, however.
SkyDrive allows users to embed their Office documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) onto other web pages. These embedded documents allow anyone who visits these web pages to interact with them, such as browsing an embedded PowerPoint slideshow, or perform calculations within an embedded Excel spreadsheet.
SkyDrive integrates with Outlook.com which allows users to:
SkyDrive integrates with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to enable users to quickly share their files with their contacts on these social networks. SkyDrive maintains an access control list of all users granted permission to view or edit the files, including those users on social networks.
SkyDrive integrates with Bing's Save & Share feature, allowing users to save search histories into a SkyDrive folder.
Each group within Windows Live Groups is provided with 5 GB of storage space on SkyDrive to be shared between the group members. Group members are allowed to access, create, modify and delete files within the group's SkyDrive folders, along with the other functionalities that SkyDrive provides.
SkyDrive supports geo-location data for photos uploaded onto the service, and will automatically display a map of the tagged location. SkyDrive also allows users to tag people on the photos uploaded onto the service via the web interface or via Windows Photo Gallery.
Photos uploaded onto SkyDrive can be played as an automatic slideshow.
Entire folders can be downloaded as a single .zip file with SkyDrive. For a single download, there is a limit of 4GB or 65,000 files (whichever comes first).
When users delete any files on SkyDrive, the service will allow the user to undo the action and restore the deleted file from the recycle bin back to the original folder. Items in the recycle bin do not count against the user's SkyDrive storage limit. All items stored in the recycle bin are kept for a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 30 days. If the content in a user's recycle bin exceeds 10% of the user's storage limit (e.g. 0.7GB for a user with a total of 7GB SkyDrive storage limit), SkyDrive will delete the oldest content from the recycle bin (provided that the files have been in the recycle bin for at least 3 days).
SkyDrive supports 94 languages, including:
|Type||File manager, file synchronization|
Microsoft has released SkyDrive client applications for Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox 360  that allow users to browse, view and organize files stored on their SkyDrive cloud storage. In addition, Microsoft also released desktop applications for Microsoft Windows (Vista and later) and OS X (Lion and later) that allow users to synchronize their entire SkyDrive storage with their computers for offline access, and synchronization of files and folders between multiple computers. The SkyDrive desktop client for Microsoft Windows allows users to "fetch" the contents of their PCs via the web browser, provided the user enabled this option; OS X users can fetch from a PC, but not vice versa.
In addition to the mentioned client apps, SkyDrive.com integrates with Microsoft Office 2010 or later, as well as the Office and Photos hub in Windows Phone, enabling users to access documents, access photos and videos stored on their SkyDrive. Microsoft has also launched a SkyDrive API, which developers can use to integrate SkyDrive into their own applications. Microsoft has showcased almost a dozen of such third party apps.
In Windows 8.1, SkyDrive is integrated as an app and is not available as a separate software. The metro/tile based application will take over also inheriting the settings and will remove the existing software's interface. Users will now be able to configure SkyDrive via the new metro/tile interface. However, use of SkyDrive on Windows 8.1 requires the user to be signed in using Microsoft account. Alternatively, a local account can be linked to a Microsoft account. No workaround exists as of January 2014 for those concerned about privacy or unwilling to link their local profiles to a Microsoft account for other reasons.
Microsoft has released a set of APIs for SkyDrive via Live Connect to enable developers to develop web services and client apps utilizing SkyDrive's cloud storage. This allows users of these web services and client apps to browse, view, upload or edit files stored on SkyDrive. Currently a software development kit (SDK) is available for web developers and developers of Windows 8 style apps, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.
Data stored on SkyDrive is subject to monitoring by Microsoft, and any content that is in violation of Microsoft's Code of Conduct is subject to removal and may lead to temporary or permanent shutdown of an account. This has led to privacy concerns in relation to data stored on SkyDrive. Microsoft has responded by indicating that "strict internal policies [are] in place to limit access to a user’s data", and that advanced mechanisms, such as Microsoft's automated PhotoDNA scanning tool, are utilized to ensure users abide with the Code of Conduct and that their account does not contain illegal files (including, but not limited to, partial human nudity (including art or drawings), any discussion of purchasing firearms, any online surveys, etc.).