Windows 8 Will Deliver a Cloud Service to Rival or Beat iCloud

In Windows 8 Microsoft will merge its free online storage service SkyDrive and syncing software Mesh to provide the backbone for what looks to be a service that will rival or beat iCloud.

In Windows 8, those tools together will automatically sync all your important files to the cloud, and then sync them to your devices. So if you write a Word document, for example, it will get sent to the cloud, and that document will then be available on a Windows Phone, a Windows 8 tablet, or other Windows 8 device. It will also be available from any Internet-connected device.

Those details and more are spelled out in the Building Windows 8 blog. SkyDrive itself will be available as a Metro app, and a version of it will be in the upcoming Windows 8 Consumer Preview. In addition, SkyDrive will be available from any Metro app, built right into the Open/Save dialog box. That means that from any Metro app, you'll be able to save file to your SkyDrive, and open files from it. When the files are saved to SkyDrive, they'll be available from any Windows 8 device.

SkyDrive will be available from the Desktop as well, and from Desktop-based apps, including Office. This is particularly welcome, because many people will likely spend more of their time on the Desktop than inside Metro. You'll also be able to upload files to SkyDrive via Windows Explorer (up to 2 GB in size), and download them.

There will also be a way to grab and stream files from a SkyDrive-connected device, even if those files aren't in SkyDrive itself. That includes streaming video and audio from a remote PC.

Of course, any new service or product always sounds ideal before it's actually delivered, and no doubt there will be the usual assortment of "gotcha's" when it's actually released. There are also quite a few questions about the new service, such as how will it work on earlier versions of Windows, will it work with Android and iOS devices (most likely not at launch, and perhaps not afterwards), and more.

Still, as designed it sounds like a service that may well rival or even surpass Apple's iCloud.

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