updated 05:15 pm EDT, Tue June 21, 2011
Promises faster, more user-friendly user interface
Microsoft has officially launched its updated SkyDrive service. The new architecture is based on HTML5 instead of Silverlight. The company had said last October it would make this transition to ensure better cross platform compatibility with more devices including iPhones, iPads and smartphones.
The updated version will be faster, easier to navigate and optimized for photo viewing.
Microsoft claims to have improved core operations so that the new SkyDrive will be significantly faster. Clicking folders and navigating through photo albums will go from six to nine seconds down to 100-300 milliseconds. Tasks have been designed to take advantage of hardware acceleration.
The company has centralized the primary access point for documents, photos and shared files around SkyDrive, instead of multiple access points including skydrive.live.com, office.live.com and photos.live.com. A new pane with direct access to files including Word and Excel has replace a pane previously dedicated to ads.
Photo viewing has been improved. Photos are now presented in their original aspect ratio. There are no longer pages to be leafed through: all pictures can be viewed in on continuous scroll. Because the album viewer is built around HTML5, images can be viewed multiple browsers, not just IE.
SkyDrive also leverages HTML5 video tagging to support playback of H.264 videos (up to 100 MB),
Microsoft has not any timetable for rolling out the updated platform, only that it would be "soon."