SkyDrive rebrand sees Microsoft unveil OneDrive

Collaboration, video transcoding and further mobile integration feature in SkyDrive replacement

Microsoft has rolled out its SkyDrive replacement, OneDrive, worldwide, with updated features and incentives for users to encourage uptake among friends and family.

The Redmond giant was ordered to change the name of its cloud storage service in July 2013 after the England and Wales High Court ruled the name breached broadcaster BSkyB’s copyright.

The company announced SkyDrive would become OneDrive as a result of the ruling in January, and has seized on this to ramp up its feature set.

The most significant change is the ability to collaborate on documents in real time with other OneDrive users through Office Web Apps.

Gabby Hegarty, European product marketing director for consumer apps and services at Microsoft, told Virtual Clouds the addition of this functionality will set the product apart from other players in the consumer cloud storage market.

“Whereas Google Drive and Dropbox are just storage products, OneDrive is about sharing and collaboration as well.”

This will help eliminate versioning problems, whereby users get confused about which document version is the latest, or where two members of a group work independently from each other, resulting in two conflicting documents.

Diane Rodin, UK product marketing lead for consumer and app services at Microsoft, added: “Edits are automatically saved to OneDrive without any need to refresh the document on the computer. This means you don’t need to worry because you will always have the latest version.”

Additional features include increased social integration, with users able to share photos publicly through OneDrive on Facebook, Twitter or over email.

The service also now boasts video transcoding, which automatically selects the optimum resolution for viewing stored videos depending on the user’s internet speed to reduce buffering. The option to manually change the resolution remains available, though.

Finally, Microsoft has included automatic camera backup for Android – a feature that was present in SkyDrive but only for Windows Phone and iOS users.

The organisation is also seeking to encourage OneDrive adoption by offering 5GB of additional storage on top of the standard 7GB for each person they invite to OneDrive who accepts the request. The number of referrals rewarded in this way is unlimited.

Additional storage can also be purchased in units of 50GB, 100GB, and 200GB increments for £16, £32 and £64 per year, respectively.

“OneDrive is a really important element for Microsoft as part of our devices and services strategy because [it] acts as the connective tissue that allows the content to flow between [them],” said Hegarty.

“The fact that it does flow so easily across our products, as well as other platforms, is a service that only Microsoft is offering,” she added.

The update and rebranding of the professional version of SkyDrive, currently called SkyDrive Pro, will be revealed at the company’s SharePoint Conference in March.

Meanwhile, the software giant has also made two smaller announcements around its cloud offerings.

The first is a further integration between its Yammer and Office 365 products, dubbed ‘mapping’, which eliminates the need for users to sign in separately to their Yammer accounts as long as they are logged into Office 365.

The second extends the integration between Skype and Lync by allowing users to video call each other, rather than use voice calls. Microsoft carried out a live demo of the new feature at its Lync Conference in Las Vegas and claimed it has enhanced the security and audio elements used between the services.

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