Tag Archives: Cloud

Microsoft Announces Updates to SkyDrive Cloud Storage Site

Introduction:
Microsoft recently announced a series of enhancements to SkyDrive, their web-based cloud file storage service.   This is another step in the right direction for Microsoft as they try to gain market share in the cloud-based file storage and web applications arena. Some of the recent improvements announced include:

Better sharing capabilities:
This is one area that was always a little clunky for SkyDrive.  Before, you were forced to place the files you wish to share within a folder that was “shared” and open for public viewing.   In addition, it was difficult for users to share files with other people who were outside of the Microsoft ecosystem.

With the new improvements, both of these issues are addressed by allowing files to be shared individually from any folder (instead of only from a “shared” folder) and with other users through several different methods (email, links, and social networks).  As stated on their blog, Microsoft is hoping to create a more “app-centric” experience.

More User Friendly File Management
File management in SkyDrive has not been their strong point.  In comparison to other cloud-based services like Google DocsBox, and Zoho, the SkyDrive user interface has been underwhelming.    These most recent updates hope to address some of those issues.

Some of the added file management functionality include:

  • The ability to change file and folder names inline
  • Move, delete and download multiple files
  • Move and Copy folders and files more easily
  • The addition of right-click functionality for photos and documents
  • Faster creation of Office Web Apps files.

Enhanced User Experience
In addition to the improvements to sharing and file management, Microsoft also made some additional changes to increase the overall speed and user experience for SkyDrive.  Some of the other improvements include:

  • Better browser support for FireFox, Chrome, and Safari
  • Ability to read other file types (PDF, RAW, etc.)
  • Enhanced photo editing

In Conclusion
All of these improvements I think show that Microsoft recognizes that the future is in the cloud.  Even with these improvements, I still think they have a way to go to catch up with other services like Box and Google.

The good news for them is that cloud-based file storage is still in its infancy and they stand to grab a huge market share of enterprise users who currently use products like SharePoint and Office.  As businesses slowly move to the cloud, Microsoft will be in a position to gather a large portion of those customers that wish to keep continuity in their products.

We’ll be watching to see where SkyDrive end up in the cloud computing race.

-TW

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Ge.tt Offers a Great File Sharing Service

I’ve recently been playing around with the file sharing site Ge.tt and have been quite impressed. Unlike many of the other file sharing sites out there, Ge.tt offers a simple user interface, a process that allows to share files quickly, and the ability to create multiple storage locations with separate URL links.

In addition, some of the other capabilities that I think distinguish from other file sharing sites include:

– Sharing capabilities through Twitter, Facebook, and email

– Ability to create what Ge.tt calls “Shares”, which are essentially separate storage locations with unique URL address.

– Automatic shortened URL links for “Shares”

One of the other cool features about Ge.tt is that you don’t have to be registered to use the service.  It reminds me a bit of the former file sharing/collaboration site Drop.io, which unfortunately no longer exists since it was bought by Facebook.  It’s not quite as open as Drop.io was, but it does have some similar features.

You also have the option to register, which offer you some additional functionality.    It currently offers 3 GB of storage for registered users.

Overall, I’m really impressed with the Ge.tt file sharing service.  I think its biggest strength is its simplicity and ease of use.   I will definitely be incorporating this service into my file sharing and storage toolbox.

-TW

Switches

3 Reasons to Not Switch to Google Docs from Office

SwitchesThe Background:
There is a lot of news in the press recently about how Google Docs is poised to start stealing market share from Microsoft Office.  I’m convinced that Google has a good product and a smart plan for strategic growth, but I would not count on Microsoft’s dominance of the Office productivity market to end – at least not yet.

I have worked with both Microsoft Office and Google Docs for quite some time now and have come up with 3 reasons why someone would not switch from Microsoft Office to Google Docs.

The Reasons:

1)  Google Docs’s Compatibility with Advanced Office Features: Google Docs does not have the ability to use advanced Office functions like custom animation, Pivot Tables, Custom Animation, or VBA Macros.  I’ve actually had much more success with spreadsheets using both Zoho and ThinkFree.  Although, Google has been updating Docs to include more of these items.  I think the basic issue is still compatibility with older Excel spreadsheets.

2) Linkage with VBA. There are a lot of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents that are heavily built around VBA scripts. From my tests, Google Docs does not have the ability to convert VBA scripts.

3) The Availability of Broadband: Although this is not really Google’s fault, it still is a reality.   I still get very frustrated with “The Cloud” when a connection is not available or a connection is unreliable.  This problem will become less of an issue as broadband becomes more widespread, but will continue to plague cloud computing applications until broadband is more available.

The Future:
As of now, I don’t see Microsoft in any danger of losing signficant market share.  This does not mean that they should not be worried.  Google (as well as others) is a force to be reckoned with and even if Google Docs is not quite ready for primetime yet. In 3-5 years I see them become a much bigger player.

Microsoft has went on the offensive again though with Office 2010 which will have a web-based component called Skydrive.    Only time will tell who will win the battle, but it should be interesting to watch in the coming months and years.