Big changes in store for SkyDrive (Update: Officially Launched)

Microsoft is reportedly preparing to launch a dedicated client for their SkyDrive cloud storage service, as well as unveiling paid options for users who need more storage. Unfortunately, these new features could be accompanied by some less positive changes for new users.

According to The Verge's unidentified source, the new SkyDrive for Windows app will be hosted at a new apps.live.com domain, and new storage options will be available in chunks of 20, 50, and 100 gigabytes of space. The new storage options will set you back $10, $25, and $50 per year, respectively. There'll also be some minor UI changes to the web client to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Now for the bad news. Starting this May, Microsoft is reportedly considering dropping the amount of free storage offered to new users from 25 GB to 7 GB. Anyone who signed up to the service before the changes took place would still be grandfathered in to the existing 25 GB plan. Just in case this turns out to be true, we'd suggest you go sign up for the service now, if you haven't already and if you ever plan on giving it a shot.

We'll see if these rumors turn out to be true very soon. The undisclosed source says that the new features will be unveiled by the Windows Live team at this week's The Next Web Conference, as part of a mysterious keynote this Saturday.

Update 11:55 EST Interestingly, the SkyDrive client appears to be available now. Microsoft hasn't announced anything, but we have tested and confirmed that a new client, which functions similar to DropBox's Windows client, can be downloaded from apps.live.com for both Windows and Mac, and that it appears to be fully functional. If you want it, grab it while you can, just in case Microsoft decides to pull it.

In addition, we have confirmed that the 7 GB storage limit is in effect as of now, along paid storage options, but still no word from Microsoft. The paid storage options are exactly as we reported above, and can be accessed by clicking 'manage storage' on your SkyDrive page.

 

Update: 12:07 EST

It's all official folks, head on over here to see the announcement. From Microsoft, here is what is available now:

 

  • SkyDrive for the Windows desktop (preview available now). View and manage your personal SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer on Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista with this new preview app available in 106 languages worldwide.
  • Fetching files through SkyDrive.com. Easily access, browse, and stream files from a remote PC running the preview app to just about anywhere by simply fetching them via SkyDrive.com.
  • SkyDrive storage updates. A new, more flexible approach to personal cloud storage that allows power users to get additional paid storage as their needs grow.  
  • SkyDrive for other devices. We’ve updated the SkyDrive apps on Windows Phone and iOS devices, bringing better management features and sharing options to those devices. We’re also releasing a new preview client for Mac OS X Lion, letting you manage your SkyDrive right from the Finder.
  • 7GB free for all new SkyDrive users. We chose 7GB as it provides enough space for over 99% of people to store their entire Office document library and share photos for several years, along with room for growth. To put things in perspective, 99.94% of SkyDrive customers today use 7GB or less – and 7GB is enough for over 20,000 Office documents or 7,000 photos. Since the current base of customers using SkyDrive tilts towards enthusiasts, we are confident that, as we expand the range of people using SkyDrive, this 7GB free limit will prove to be more than enough for even more people.
  • Ability to upload large files – up to 2GB – and folders using SkyDrive for the Windows desktop or SkyDrive for OS X Lion.
  • Paid storage plans (+20GB, +50GB, +100GB) so that power users who need more storage can easily add more at competitive prices (US$10/year, US$25/year, US$50/year). Please note that paid-for storage requires the ability to pay by credit card (or via PayPal, in some markets) and a Windows Live ID that can be associated with that credit card or PayPal account.

We also want to point out that users who signed up for the service before the change should be able to reclaim their 25GB of storage by going to the manage storage page. Quite a nice little present, considering all the new capabilities!

[Update: 1:54 PM EST]

We asked Microsoft about the application for Android and this is what they had to say: "SkyDrive understands the importance of building apps for all major platforms." While not a confirmation, we fully expect an Android variant of SkyDrive to be pushed out in the near future. 

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