The official transition from Microsoft SkyDrive to Microsoft OneDrive begins today.
The Redmond-based company was forced to change the name of its cloud storage and syncing service after it lost a trademark lawsuit filed by satellite TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Group. But the move also offered Microsoft a chance to tie its cloud service branding to the Xbox One and the One Microsoft push outlined by outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer last July.
Ultimately, the name change reflects the service's goal to store "everything in one place," Microsoft's vice president for OS Services. Chris Jones, wrote in a post on theOneDrive Blog today.
Along with the name change come a new Android OneDrive app that can auto-upload photos to cloud storage, smarter video sharing, a referral program that offers users higher storage limits if they get friends to open OneDrive accounts, and a 100GB giveaway for 100,000 users.
The switch to OneDrive won't affect current SkyDrive users' accounts; their files remain backed up in the cloud. But they'll have the added ability to share videos that adapt to the recipient's playback resolution and bandwidth using MPEG Dash transcoding in real time. This way, you're not sending huge 1080p video over slow Internet connections to small screens, which can result in buffering wait times.
ITProPortal sat down with Microsoft group product marketing manager Angus Logan last week to discuss the OneDrive news. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the meeting was the number of non-Microsoft devices connecting to SkyDrive. Sure there were Surfaces, an Xbox, and Nokia phones, but there was also an iPhone, a Kindle Fire, and a Google Nexus 5.
"We've been on a mission of connecting SkyDrive to as many places as possible. We want to take the OneDrive service to where you have your data. That could be your iPhone, it could be your Android, it could be your Mac, or your PC," said Logan.
He also noted research that points to increased adoption of cloud backup. In just three months, according to NPD, the average number of devices in US households has gone from 5.3 to 5.7. A Harris study, meanwhile, found that 77 per cent of people surveyed said they had data that only existed on one device, even though a YouGov survey indicates people would rather give up Internet access for a month than lose their files. And another Harris survey said 69 per cent of users would rather lose the device than the data on their device.
Logan also mentioned a few advantages OneDrive has over Apple's iCloud: Photos are never removed from the cloud (Apple pushes out old photos if the cloud total tops 1000), and OneDrive can sync videos as well as photos. Advantages over Google Drive include having the service baked into Office, Windows 8, Xbox, and the ability to share content to Facebook. "We're trying to make it as easy as possible just to have this one place you can see your data and share it with people and have it available across all your devices," said Logan.
OneDrive does have one capability that rivals Apple TV's ability to show any photos from your iCloud Photo Stream: Any photos or videos in your OneDrive storage, or even content shared with you from other OneDrive users, can be viewed on the big screen through your Xbox. This gives Android and Windows Phone (or even iPhone) users who use their OneDrive app's auto-photo-upload feature an equivalent to iCloud-plus-Apple TV. Gamers can also record gameplay to OneDrive and share it through the service.
SkyDrive already offered more free space than most cloud backup services, with 7GB. Now users can get 500MB more for each user they add to the service via an invite, for a maximum of 5GB more or for or 12GB free.
Users who take advantage of mobile camera backup will also get an extra 3GB free, for a free total of 10GB. Finally, 100,000 users will be randomly selected to get 100GB free storage for a year by hitting the OneDrive.com webpage while logged in to their account; details on the giveaway are at the @OneDrive Twitter account. Finally, purchasers of Microsoft Surfaces get a free 200GB for two years.
The 250 million existing OneDrive users will be notified of the name change, and for a while the apps will say "formerly SkyDrive" in smaller print.