Ever since Windows 8 was announced for the first time, we heard rumors about cloud data synchronization options built-into the operating system. Microsoft later on confirmed that Windows 8 users would be able to sync some of their data and customizations with the cloud, so that these would become available on all Windows 8 systems the user had access to.
Today, in a new blog post over at the Building Windows 8 blog, the company revealed how it intended to integrate the feature in the operating system.
SkyDrive, Microsoft’s online storage and document editing service, will be used for that, and a lot more. The blog post reveals three major features that Microsoft plans to integrate into Windows 8. Best of all, we will see at least some of them in the upcoming Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
- SkyDrive Metro style app on Windows 8
- SkyDrive files integrated into Windows Explorer on the desktop
- The ability to fetch remote files through SkyDrive.com
If you are in a hurry, watch the four minute long video that highlights the features:
SkyDrive Metro style app on Windows 8
This is the synchronization feature we heard about earlier. But that’s far from all of it. When you log in with an online account, Microsoft will automatically check the connected SkyDrive account for Windows 8 and personal data that was synchronized earlier on with the service. It will then automatically make available those files and customization on the current computer.
This includes personalization options, the browsing history and settings, among other data. Windows 8 users are also able to see photos, and access documents that they have hosted in the cloud.
Inside Microsoft, we’ve all been using Windows 8 on multiple PCs for some time now. We clean install Windows 8 on a new PC and sign in, and all of our settings, browser history, and customizations just show up. In addition, one of the most important steps we take to make a new PC “ours” is to copy over our personal files – like documents and photos. With Windows 8, we wanted to make sure that your files would be instantly available and up-to-date as you move between PCs – without configuring add-ons or using a USB drive.
SkyDrive will also become available for other Metro style apps that feature a load and save files option, and the new Share charm. Microsoft notes that this brings the “file cloud” to every Metro app supporting the feature.
SkyDrive files integrated into Windows Explorer on the desktop
Microsoft plans to release a desktop software for Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. This application integrates SkyDrive into Windows Explorer in very much the same way that the Dropbox installer integrates the file synchronization service currently.
A root directory will be created in the user profile folder, and all files changes in that directory will be synchronized with the cloud. For this, Microsoft will increase the current maximum file size limit from 100 Megabytes to 2 Gigabytes.
Microsoft has not mentioned other figures yet. Current SkyDrive users get 25 Gigabytes of free online space.
Windows Vista and 7 users who plan to upgrade to Windows 8, or buy a new PC with the operating system, could use the SkyDrive feature to move all of their important files to the cloud to have them available on the new PC the second they log into the account there for the first time.
<The ability to fetch remote files through SkyDrive.com
Windows 8 users in addition to the features mentioned above, can access files remotely on other computer systems through SkyDrive. It is not clear if all systems need to run Windows 8 for this, or if only the active system needs to run the operating system. It is however likely that both the host and remote system need to run Windows 8.
The remote feature can be used to retrieve files from a system that are currently not stored in the cloud. This works only if the remote PC is up and connected to the Internet.
A 2-factor authentication via mobile phone code or email is used before connections can be established. This is done to prevent unauthorized access to files, for instance if a PC gets stolen or if someone manages to get access to a PC that is on and not monitored.
The SkyDrive integration in Windows 8 can improve the user experience significantly, especially for users who work with multiple PCs from time to time or regularly.
What’s your take on the integration? Lets discuss in the comments.