Tools for online file/docs storage and collaboration. Contains Web versions of Microsoft office editors (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote). Excel web version allows simultaneous document editing in real time.
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Earlier this month, Microsoft updated the online version of its file storage and sharing service SkyDrive (implemented the Metro-Windows-8 interface there), and today the company has released the mobile SkyDrive app for Android. It allows to access your files (including the files shared with you) from Android-smartphone or tablet, view and edit files in other applications, upload new and edited files back to the server. Besides this Android app, SkyDrive's mobile application works on iPhone / iPad and Windows Phone. Also, SkyDrive is by default built into Windows 8. Recall, SkyDrive competes with services like DropBox, Google Drive, SugarSync and provides 7 GB of free cloud storage, which is much larger than the competitors.
Microsoft started preview testing of the new version of its browser-based document editing applications Office Web Apps. Everybody can already join the preview on the SkyDrive or Office 365. The first thing that has changed - is the interface. It's now exactly like the upcoming Office 2013. And the main feature of this interface - is its adaption to the tablets with touch-screen. In general, the main objective pursued by Microsoft in this update - is to improve the performance of Office Web Apps on mobile devices (in mobile browsers). And the new mobile web interface for smartphones, is perhaps even better than its main competitor - Google Docs:
Together with Office 2013 Microsoft unveiled the beta version of SharePoint 2013. This is still an early version, and we won't review it so far (in particular, it's still no information about possible integration with Yammer). But one thing is this beta has already attracted great public interest - SkyDrive Pro. We have previously reported that SharePoint is being attacked by the army of file synchronization services called "Dropbox for Enterprise", and that SkyDrive's technology should help SharePoint to overcome these attacks. And so it happens, but as usual, Microsoft has added an element of chaos to this project. Why was it necessary to create a separate service called SkyDrive Pro? Why they just not added simple file sync functionality to SharePoint without inventing new titles? It's even more confusing as SkyDrive Pro won't replace the existing off-line client - SharePoint Workspace, but will be used along with it.
SkyDrive, Microsoft’s online storage service continues to take on Dropbox and add support for new platforms. Following the applications for Windows Phone and iPhone, Microsoft has released the desktop client for Windows and Mac OS (OS X Lion). Also, the SkyDrive's mobile interface has been optimized for iPad tablets. SkyDrive for desktop works in the usual way - it creates a folder on your computer and all the files that you copy to this folder are automatically synced with your online account, as well as with your other computers or mobile devices that are running SkyDrive. And if in the online account you create a shared folder for your work-group, the service will be continuously syncing files between the computers of co-workers.
This year, marketers in Enterprise 2.0 companies haven't prepared well for the April Fools' Day, perhaps because it fell on Sunday. The only diligent company was Google, that released several April 1 products. One of them - is GMail Tap - the new app for mobile GMail, which allows to quickly type text with just two buttons - dot and dash (watch video above). At the same time Microsoft, which recently was very productive in funny videos, at that time only unveiled the new interface for the online file storage and sharing service SkyDrive - SkyCMD. It allows you to manage your files using the classic DOS-syntax and the command line:
So, Microsoft finally lost its fear of rival mobile platforms. Previously, the company launched the number of applications for the iPhone/iPad and even is working on the full-featured mobile Office for the iPad. And now it decided to make happy the Android users. Of course, it started with the apps for which being cross-platform is more important - the file storage SkyDrive and notebook/organizer OneNote. From now any files (including OneNote notebooks) can be synchronized between your Android-smartphone and your online SkyDrive account. However, there is a catch. While SkyDrive for Android - is completely free, the mobile OneNote app - is free only for up to 500 notes. After reaching this limit, you'll have to pay $4.99 (one-time fee) - and the restriction will be removed.
Microsoft continues to troll Google services with funny videos. At this time, they take on Google Docs. According to the scenario a group of young co-workers wants to creat a document and starts working on it in Google Docs. Naive guys don't know that Google Docs are only suitable for simple tasks and drawing a planetary system in Google Docs - is impossible. But it's possible in Microsoft SkyDrive. Even not in the Skidrive itself (it also can't do such complicated formatting) but in the desktop MS Office, that can edit the document simultaneously with the online SkyDrive editor. Note that Microsoft has removed the title Windows Live Office, which was used from the start to refer the online office, and now is using SkyDrive (that formerly was used to refer only the file storage).
After the recent Microsoft's announcement that it's working on Office for iPad (by the way, today OneNote has become available for iPad), today's launch of the SkyDrive app for iPhone is not very surprising. From now the SkyDrive users can access their files on the iPhone, open them, share to others, create new folders and synchronize files to the online account. The same application has appeared for Windows Phone 7.5 (watch the video below). And judging by some vacancies that Microsoft posts on the job-sites, the company is already working on the SkyDrive version for Android. Recall, SkyDrive offers free 25GB of cloud storage, which is much larger than its main competitors: Box.net, DropBox and Google Docs.
Microsoft has released an update fro its online collaboration suite Office 365, which includes 30 new features. The most important of them are support for Windows Phone 7.5, opportunity to edit documents stored in SharePoint Online on Windows Phone, Lync client for Windows Phone and Mac, ability to integrate Sharepoint Online with third-party applications (via SharePoint Business Connectivity Services), improved file uploading and sharing tools. Microsoft also made Office 365 available in 22 new countries including Argentina, South Africa and Taiwan. Together with Office 365 its free mass-market alternative SkyDrive has been updated. It also features the new HTML5-uploader an slick file sharing (that we have already mentioned). These new features, and the new file management tools are shown in this video:
When the MS Office Web Apps launched, only the Excel Web App allowed to collaborate on online documents in real time. Now the trick is also available in the online Word. Though it's not so cool as in Google Docs. To let co-editors see your changes you have to click the Save button, then co-editors will see the notification in the status bar, then click Save and only then see your changes. There is no chat / comments like in Google Docs, but at least you can see who is currently editing every part of the document. Meanwhile co-authoring in the online Word works only in the free Windows Live Office (SkyDrive) and is not yet available in Office 365.
Microsoft has finally killed the intrigue on the future of Silverlight in web-applications (recall this intrigue emerged at the end of last year). The new version of the online file storage Windows SkyDrive (which works as the basis of all Windows Live services) is completely rebuilt on HTML5 instead of Silverlight (even video player is now working on HTML5). SkyDrive is now much faster and supports all browsers (even Google Chrome). Along with the underlying technology shift, the developers have rebuild the service interface - it's now very similar to the Windows folder interface. Moreover, users of Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9 can get to SkyDrive directly from the taskbar and with one click create Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents in Office Web Apps online editors:
Last week, Amazon launched the new online file storage service Amazon Cloud Drive. And taking into account reputation of Amazon, as the online storage market leader, this event, of course, deserves our attention. Let's consider the advantages and disadvantages of this service compared to key competitors. The main parameters - are shown in the table (below). It's turns out that the main advantage of Amazon Cloud Drive - if free 5GB account with maximum file size of 2GB. However, its main drawback negates this advantage: you can not share this large file with anyone. Amazon Cloud Drive doesn't allow to share files publicly or protected by password. I.e. the only way of using this service - is a private storage for backup or enhancing your productivity.
At last (after the July announcement) Microsoft is opening web-based Office 2010 applications to beta-testers. The web Office will have a long official title: Microsoft Office Web Applications. As we already informed, it will be available in two editions: Free and Business. The business version will work on top of SharePoint 2010 (behind the firewall). And free version will work on top of the online file storage service Windows Live SkyDrive (that provides 25Gb for free). Yesterday one thousand of SkyDrive happy users already got an access to online Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. And their reviews are quite different - from "awesome" to "tedious". Here are the most interesting points: