This morning, Microsoft unveiled a bunch of changes to SkyDrive, its free service for storing, sharing, and editing files online.Although we haven’t spent a ton of time with it yet, and only tested it on Microsoft products (Internet Explorer on Windows 7) something surprising happened.
For the first time in its three and a half years of existence, the service does not suck.
They’ve solved a lot of the problems that drove us crazy in the last update, and made sharing files a lot easier.
Some of the best fixes we noticed:
- Dragging and dropping files from the desktop to SkyDrive works. You still have to select the “Add Files” item from the top of the SkyDrive menu first (so it’s not like working on your desktop) but at least the error messages are gone.
- You can manage files and folders without ripping your hair out. You can do simple things like create, rename, and delete all files folders with right click menu options (finally!). Again, it doesn’t work quite the same way as the desktop — to move an item, for instance, you have to select “move” then choose the items from a pop-up menu of your folder — but at least it works.
- Sharing is easier from within Office Web Apps. The Office Web Apps are special limited-function versions of Office that work entirely within your Web browser. The “Share” link now lets you share documents in one of three ways — you can send an email message with a link of the file in it, get a universal URL to copy and paste wherever you want, or share the file directly onto Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace.
- You can browse while uploading files. Basic, but nice. Before you were locked until the file upload was complete.
It’s not perfect — drag and drop within SkyDrive would be nice, and Office files are opened by default to view-only mode (you have to select a separate command to open them for editing; you can also open them on your desktop in the appropriate Office rogram).
And overall, Microsoft’s online strategy is still confusing — for instance, SkyDrive doesn’t really have any ties to Office 365, Microsoft’s online services for businesses, even though they both use variations of the same Office Web Apps.
But at least the company seems to be taking its online competitors more seriously and not just paying lip service to the cloud.
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