updated 02:35 pm EST, Mon February 20, 2012
Microsoft confirms SkyDrive app plans
Microsoft partly confirmed recent rumors with an extensive breakdown of plans for SkyDrive in Windows 8. The service will have a fully Metro-native, touch-aware app in the new OS and will be integrated into the OS, letting any app load and save files to cloud storage. Sharing "charms" in the OS will let users share SkyDrive material directly instead of having to download and attach them first.
Both the conventional Windows 8 desktop, as well as Windows Vista and 7 users, will get their own deeper SkyDrive connections. The previously leaked desktop app will become a rough equivalent to Dropbox, letting users designate a folder where any files are automatically backed up. Although not mentioned, a Mac app had leaked out in the past and could provide the same features without having to use Windows or a web browser.
Everyone will get access to a SkyDrive.com service that will let them remotely connect to a limited selection of media folders on their computer to fetch something they didn't sync. SkyDrive would add an extra layer of authentication, such as a special code sent by text message or e-mail.
A version of the SkyDrive Metro app will be present in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and should be polished by the finished release late in the year.
The approach draws close parallels with iCloud, which started fully integrating into Apple's platform with updates to OS X Lion as well as iOS 5. The iCloud strategy may be held back by a need to consciously implement support in apps where it's theoretically automatic in Windows 8. As full support for Metro still requires that apps be redesigned or written from scratch to support the new method, however, Lion will still have had roughly a year's head start, albeit with a much smaller 5GB of free storage versus the 25GB Microsoft offers so far.