Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Introducing the new SkyDrive (in depth look)

I wrote about it earlier today, and what do you know -- the new SkyDrive is out.

If you are not aware of what SkyDrive is, I'll give you a minor run down of the service. SkyDrive is Microsoft's personal cloud service. With SkyDrive, you can upload your files to the cloud, and you can set share options on anything. Personally, I have a section of SkyDrive which is shared with just me (private), some sections that are shared with my friends/contacts, and some that are public (like the images hosted for use on Techman's World). In addition to a web interface, you can also use SkyDrive's desktop apps for syncing files via your file manager in Windows and Mac OS X.

Recently, all of Microsoft's online services are getting a new Windows 8 UI look -- basically what was the codename "Metro". already has it, People (contacts) already has the new look, and now SkyDrive. Calendar has not gotten a remake yet, but we can all expect a updated look coming to that as well.

Below the horizontal line is my in depth look. Hope you all enjoy it. Ironically, the images are going to be hosted at SkyDrive. I did use IE8 (i know, i know) for this tutorial on purpose to make sure that I had less of a chance of running into issues. I wrote over the URL bar to protect my personal info, such as my consumer id, which is shown in the URL bar.

Logging in
When you first get to SkyDrive, you have to sign in first if you haven't already. Of course the login screen is going to have a hint of the Windows 8 UI, so you can see a picture of this below. I don't think there is anything else that needs to be said about logging in, because its pretty straightforward. You put in your credentials, and login. Simple as that.
After logging in

After logging in, you get a very clean display of all of your top level directories, meaning your parent folders withing SkyDrive. As you can see, I don't really have that many. For me the folders were automatically being displayed in the thumbnail view, but I happened to switch mine to the list view. In my personal use, I only use the thumbnail view when I am dealing with photos, not documents and other files. If you do want to toggle between the thumbnail and list view, you can at the top right next to the sort options.
As you can see in the image above, instead of options being on a right panel, they are now moved to the top in a global menu bar like area. With nothing highlighted, you just see options to create a folder or document, or the option to upload to that specific directory. You can also just right click in an open area to achieve the same option. You can also right click on objects to see some of the menu options listed above in the bar at the top. You can click the images to enlarge them.


Settings for SkyDrive is much simpler now, because all options for SkyDrive are now in one place. To access these settings, click the gear at the top right, and then select "Options". From there, you get the options screen. The first thing you see is an overview of your storage. From here you can also upgrade your storage options by clicking "Upgrade" from the menu option (shown in picture).

You can also access options for:
  • Office file formats -- choose between Microsoft Office, or OpenDocument formats
  • Office Preview -- choose whether to be a part of the upcoming new version of the office web apps (currently in beta, and yes it does have a Windows 8 UI look)
  • People Tagging - choose settings for who can tag you in photos, etc.
Previewing a Photo
Previewing a photo is also clean. To the left you get to see a preview of the photo, and additional info is to the right. Options are at the top. You can access share rules from the share dropdown (hidden). You can even tag people in the photo, but in this case there is no one in the photo.
Uploading files
Uploading files to SkyDrive with this new interface is a breeze. The simplest way and the most obvious way is just to click the "Upload" button at the top when inside a folder of your choosing. And if you browser supports this, you can even drag and drop files to automatically upload them. I did not the option to drag and top using IE8, so I loaded the interface in Chrome to see if there even was a drag and drop option. And what do you know, there is one.
Office Web Apps
The new look of the Office Web Apps was covered by me in a differ post, found here.

Well, this pretty much wraps up my in depth look of the new SkyDrive. I'll keep you posted of any updates, and if you have any thoughts on the new SkyDrive kindly let me know of them in the comments below.