Microsoft has just released a desktop client for their cloud hosting service Skydrive. The application is available for Windows and Mac, as well as for iPhone and Windows Phone and it fully integrates the user’s Skydrive folders into their desktop computer or mobile device. Along with the application release, Microsoft has also changed the amount of free space available on Skydrive Free. Previously, users were allowed 25GB of free space on sign up. This has been reduced to 7GB. However, users who already have an account on Skydrive can keep their 25GB quota by logging into their accounts and taking the necessary actions. This offer is available only for a limited time.
Skydrive for Windows is similar in function to Dropbox. It integrates with Windows Explorer that allows you to browse files on your Skydrive account from your local hard disk. Uploading files is just a matter of copy and paste or drag and drop. Once you sign-in to Skydrive through the application, all files on your Skydrive account are automatically downloaded to your computer and both folders are kept in sync.
Individual folders on SkyDrive can even by added to Windows 7 Libraries so that they feel more like a part of the system and less like separate folders. Alternatively, you could change the target location to folders in your SkyDrive, basically treating your SkyDrive as your primary drive. You can also customize the default root of the synchronized folder (to use a different drive, for example), and this option is available during setup of the SkyDrive app.
Now here is an interesting twist: SkyDrive for Windows also includes a remote login feature that allows you to browse any files on your PC from any other internet connected computer, even if those files are not synchronized with your SkyDrive account. In order to access a remote PC you will have to provide a second factor of authentication beyond your account password. This code will be sent to your mobile phone or alternate email address when you can use to remotely access files on the PC.
Regarding the deduction in free storage, Microsoft says the decision was made because 99.94% of SkyDrive users were using less than 7GB. If you already have a SkyDrive account and using more than 4GB, your account will automatically be upgraded to 25GB without you having to take any step. New users will be limited to 7GB. Paid storage is available at a competitive pricing of $10/year for 20GB. The rates fall further as you buy more space.
The only blotch on SkyDrive at the moment is that there is no client for Android. Also SkyDrive for Windows is incompatible with Windows XP.