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With Windows 8, Microsoft integrated SkyDrive more deeply into the Windows experience, making it easy to save documents and providing a pre-loaded SkyDrive app. In Windows 8.1, the integration advances to the next level; SkyDrive becomes the default place to save new documents.
There’s a reason behind the strong move toward online storage, and it’s not just because Microsoft has a love affair with the cloud. It turns out consumers are using ever-greater amounts of data storage. Although that’s no shocker, storage on devices isn’t keeping pace. Microsoft said people’s data needs are increasing 50% every year, but device capacities are going up by only 25%.
“There’s this point where I need more data and devices just aren’t keeping up,” said Angus Logan, group product marketing manager for SkyDrive. “So there’s that tension around, ‘How do I have all my files with me when clearly they’re going to be more than the size of what’s available on one of my devices?'”
With SkyDrive, Microsoft wants to do more than fill the gap — it wants the cloud to be the place its customers turn to first for storage. After all, files in the cloud have many advantages over local files, since they can be accessed anywhere, shared and even used for real-time collaboration.
Cloud storage also has advantages for Microsoft, since users need to pay for the privilege. Anyone with a Microsoft account (required for Windows 8) gets 7GB of free storage, but subscription fees kick in above that. 20GB costs $10 a year, 50GB costs $25 and 100GB costs $50. Those who already subscribe to Office 365 receive an extra 20GB.
Of course, more storage is directly proportional to higher cost. And if you’re ever offline for long periods of time, cloud storage isn’t a great choice for key files, though normal mirroring and syncing is possible. You may also find sometimes sluggish performance when saving directly to SkyDrive from apps like Microsoft Word.
Still, SkyDrive’s placeholder files make SkyDrive a good solution for nonessential documents. For those on Windows paying for cloud storage anyway, the service warrants a second look in Windows 8.1.
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Source: Associated Press