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February 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM

SkyDrive to be integrated into Windows 8, released as desktop app

SkyDrive, Microsoft’s personal cloud offering, will have a Metro-style app for Windows 8 and be released as a desktop app.

Those are some of the developments revealed in a blog post today on Microsoft’s official Building Windows 8 blog.

Currently, some 17 million people use SkyDrive to store everything from photos to documents.

What Microsoft is working on is morphing SkyDrive “from a website today into a true device cloud for Windows customers,” according to the blog post written by Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, group program managers for SkyDrive.

“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,” they write.

The new SkyDrive app, an early version of which will be included in the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 launching Feb. 29, will make SkyDrive available for use from any Metro-style app.

“This will bring a file cloud to every Metro style app, allowing you to open files in your SkyDrive and save them right back to your SkyDrive just like you would on your local hard drive,” the blog post says.

Microsoft is also releasing a SkyDrive desktop app that will offer “drag-and-drop upload and download support for SkyDrive, anywhere access to your data, offline access, and the power of Windows Explorer to manage your files and folders.”

Microsoft is also adding a fetch files feature, meaning users can remotely access files stored locally on their desktop but not on SkyDrive, as long as the desktop is running SkyDrive.

Here’s how Torres and Shahine describe it:

When designing the new SkyDrive, we knew not everyone would want to put 100% of their files in the cloud just yet. People are selective, and while some will move all of their files into SkyDrive, others will want to start slowly and use SkyDrive just for roaming some important documents and pictures from their Windows Phone camera roll. Knowing that most people would still have files on a remote PC that weren’t available through SkyDrive, we built a new feature that allows you to “reach across” the Internet to access any file, stream videos, or view photo albums from a remote PC that is running SkyDrive on the desktop. For any remote folder or file, you can also choose to “copy to SkyDrive,” so that you’ll always have it across your devices.

SkyDrive is the personal cloud component of Microsoft’s move to create an ecosystem for its consumer devices, akin to Apple’s iCloud and its ecosystem of personal cloud and devices.

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