Hands on: the new SkyDrive

The dust hasn't had time to settle on the Microsoft's overhauled SkyDrive, but we've gone hands-on with the updated service, and it does not disappoint. Although the smaller amount of storage offered to free users isn't something to be celebrated, the added convenience of the new client is a worthy tradeoff.

SkyDrive is finally playing with the big boys – much like Dropbox's Windows client, SkyDrive now functions like a regular directory on your system. Just drag and drop any file into your SkyDrive directory, and voila! It's automatically uploaded to SkyDrive and available to you wherever you go:

Likewise, anything you upload to SkyDrive from another computer or from the web app becomes available in your SkyDrive directory. It just works:

If the 7GB of storage now being offered to free users isn't enough for you, there's also the option to purchase more space. You can take a look at the different plans by clicking 'manage storage' on your SkyDrive page.

As you can see, there's a wide variety of plans being offered at competitive prices. Compared to Dropbox's Pro 100 plan (100GB, $199 a year), SkyDrive +100 looks like a steal.

If you're an existing SkyDrive user (as of 22 April 2012), Microsoft will reward your loyalty by letting you keep your current 25GB of storage. If you're already using over 7GB of storage in your SkyDrive, your account will already have been upgraded automatically. If not, you'll have to opt-in to keep your full 25GB allowance. Just visit your SkyDrive storage page, click 'Upgrade my storage', and your 25GB will be preserved. You can find out more about this on Microsoft's SkyDrive limited time loyalty offer page.

Microsoft is also offering updated SkyDrive apps for the iPhone and iPad from today, including support for Retina Displays.

So, what can we say? It's pretty awesome. Although we wish we could have more storage for free, the pricing on the larger chunks are very good, and so far the client works great. No doubt this update will put Microsoft in a great position to compete with Dropbox and Google Drive.

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