Cloud storage services, like Microsoft’s SkyDrive, have become an important part of computing. By storing files in one of these programs, we can access them from nearly any device that has an Internet connection. While this is great news, accessing a file from a mobile device on a data plan could use an extraordinary amount of data up. Microsoft has recently announced some new features of both Windows 8.1 and SkyDrive to combat this.
With the upcoming release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has noted that there will be deep integration between this platform and their cloud based storage system SkyDrive. Because many users access SkyDrive files from their mobile devices, these changes should also help reduce the amount of bandwidth used. Here’s an overview of the three new features the SkyDrive app for Windows 8.1 will have:
1. A new way to access files
In the current version of SkyDrive, when you need to access a file on a mobile device, it is usually downloaded to your device’s hard drive. Downloading to a device works for small files, but most phones and tablets lack the storage of desktops, which makes accessing larger files a bit of an issue.
A solution to this will be implemented with Windows 8.1, and that is to use what Microsoft calls ‘placeholder’ files. These files look exactly like normal files and folders, with a name, thumbnail and some basic information. They can be moved, renamed and copied just like normal files. The difference is that the full file isn’t actually there. It’s only downloaded when you actually open it.
According to Microsoft, a SkyDrive Account with 100GB worth of files will have all of these files available on any Windows 8.1 device. With the use of this new file structure, the total hard-disk space needed on a device would be around 5GB. Of course, if you open all 100GB of files, they will be downloaded and take up 100GB of storage, but the idea is you will have access to all of your files from your device at a fraction of the total hard drive space requirement.
2. Improved offline access
There are times when you will need to access a file on your SkyDrive, but don’t have Internet access. With the SkyDrive app for Windows 8.1, users will be able to mark files and folders they want to be available offline.
You will be able to open, edit and save files you have designated to be available offline, and when you do connect to the Internet again, the edits and changes will be synced across all devices.
3. File management from Windows 8.1
Many Windows apps, like Outlook, have a function called file picker which allows you to open, edit and save files from within the app. With Windows 8.1, you will be able to select to save files directly to SkyDrive from within the app. For example, if a colleague sends you a report in Outlook, you will be able to save it directly to SkyDrive from within Outlook. The interesting thing about this is that you don’t have to be online to do this, the file will save when you next go online.
If you are using the desktop version of 8.1, SkyDrive files will show up just like regular files on your File Explorer and any files added will be synced when you have an Internet connection. Should you loose connection while uploading it will resume when you next connect.
The final new feature is related to the Search function of Windows. In Windows 8, when you search for files those stored in SkyDrive were left out by default. Windows 8.1 will bring about increased Search capabilities and will return relevant files stored in SkyDrive. But that’s not all, as files will also show up with an advanced preview. For example if a search result includes a document stored in SkyDrive, the first few lines of text will be displayed in the results along with the name of the file.
When Windows 8.1 is released you can look forward to a more functional SkyDrive. One which should help make your job easier, especially if you also use a Windows 8.1 mobile device. If you are interested in learning more about the update and how you can upgrade to Windows 8.1, contact us today.