We knew the update was coming for SkyDrive eventually, but it wasn't clear what had been added to the new "Wave 5" release, nor was when it was going to be released. According to a blog post over on The Windows Team Blog today, Microsoft has released the massive update to the public, with a ton of new features, a full UI overhaul (now built on HTML5 and CSS3), and a huge performance improvement.
The blog post at Windows Team Blog fully details the new features. Notably, SkyDrive now has full hardware acceleration -- and Microsoft claims the improvements are huge -- with navigating photo albums down from "6-9 seconds" to an impressive "100-300 milliseconds". In IE9, SkyDrive has the ability to be pinned to the taskbar for quick access, too.
The company is pulling in photos (photos.live.com) and docs (docs.live.com) from their other services now, so they can be viewed in one place, and offers new views to look at them as well, such as "mosaic view" of photos or a sort of "live tile" presentation of them (similar to something you'd expect to see in Windows Phone 7, see it in action in the video below).
Liveside reports that Microsoft chose to build the new SkyDrive in HTML5 and CSS3 rather than Silverlight for what seems to have come down to performance reasons. The move allows Microsoft to take advantage of new CSS3 transitions and H.264 video "to bring the experience live to you."
They also point out that while Microsoft increased the single file size limit to 100MB, SkyDrive is still locked off at 25GB maximum, with no way to pay to expand it to more storage yet. In addition to this, it still appears to be separate from Windows Live Mesh, Microsofts' desktop synchronization software which is locked at 5GB of SkyDrive's storage.
The new SkyDrive is now available over at skydrive.live.com
Images courtesy of windowsteamblog.com