Microsoft has updated its flagship “Skydrive” sync software with a much needed and often asked for update. The update allows users to sync specific folders with the cloud, rather than forcing the user to sync a single monolithic folder.
The update downloads to users computers and notifies than via a balloon style popup by the clock. The metro app hasn’t yet been updated.
In 2005, Microsoft purchased a program called FolderShare from Byte Taxi and quickly incorporated it into its Live Essentials suite as the Mesh sync program. Between 2008 and 2012, it gained a small but vocal userbase. In February, Microsoft announced that the Mesh software would be discontinued, and Skydrive would replace it. Although Skydrive had more features to fill promotional material – including Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone compatibility, it lacked a major feature: A user could not choose which folders to sync.
The new version of Skydrive fills the hole that Live Mesh left, and when used in conjunction with Windows 8, is even a worthy replacement for Live Mesh. It offers a feature that allows the user to right click on any file and add it to their cloud, and even view the file in the cloud. According to Microsoft, this makes collaboration much easier, and helps users with limited hard drive space keep just their important files sync’d.
In a press release from Microsoft, they claim that in the past 6 months since the Skydrive sync app was released, sync usage has almost doubled. They also tout the updated versions of the Skydrive app for Android and Windows Phone 8.
The Android application includes the following new features, too:
- Upload all file types from SD card
- Rename SkyDrive folders & files
- Custom sort orders for every view
The Skydrive service from Microsoft comes with 5gb’s of free storage, or up to 105gb/year for $50. Compared to Apple’s iCloud offering, this is a steal.
Apple offers just 55gb’s for $50/year, although the seemless integration with iOS is probably worth it to Apple users. Google offers 100gb’s for $60/year, although they offer plans of up to 16tb of storage space, and Dropbox offers plans upto 500gb’s for ~1gb/$1.
Compared to other services, Skydrive is a competitive alternative from Microsoft that works across all of the major platforms. The update today only furthers its usability, and brings it closer to catching up to the ubiquitous Dropbox.