Monday, February 10, 2014

SkyDrive becoming OneDrive

Microsoft hasn’t been any more specific than “soon,” but at some point in the near future, SkyDrive will become OneDrive.   (The name change was necessitated by a trademark infringement suit in the UK with British Sky Broadcasting Group.)  Whatever you call it, you might be wondering exactly what it is.  People who have already made the leap to Windows 8 likely know, but even some Windows 8 users are confused by what’s going on with this service. Here are a very few brief highlights.  (For the sake of ease, I’ll refer to the service as OneDrive, even though it isn’t the official name quite yet.)

This service is simply online storage for your Microsoft Office files, whether they be Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint presentations.  You can also create new files in OneDrive, as well as store photos.  It’s a bit like Google Drive or Dropbox, but it can be incredibly integrated with your computer, especially if you’re on Windows 8.  For instance, on a Windows 8 computer, the default location to save a file is not that computer, but the OneDrive account associated with that computer.   I’ve got to say that on more than one occasion, I’ve nearly saved something to the wrong place, but I’m getting used to it.  And even if I do save something to the “wrong” place, I can log into my OneDrive account from any computer to access my file. 

It’s been quite handy when accessing my files from my computer at work.  I can download a file from OneDrive, edit in Word on my work computer, then save it right back to my OneDrive quite intuitively.  And it doesn’t matter if the file was created it Word 2013, saved to OneDrive, then edited in Word 2007, and resaved to OneDrive.

That’s just one of the things I really love about OneDrive, especially when compared to other services, like Google Drive.  The fact that the default file format is the Microsoft Office format is nice, since .doc files are far and away the most common, and almost anyone can open them.  Creating, saving, and editing either in the web app or Microsoft Office is pretty seamless,  but I have to qualify this because no one has yet made the web version of document software as robust as full Office software installed on your computer.  So sometimes there are formatting ticks, especially if you have images in a Word document.  But still, I’ve run across far fewer problems than with Google Drive. 

Probably my favorite feature is how easy it is to share single files or entire folders with someone else.  Just use the Share button to email someone either reading or reading and editing privileges and the file(s) is shared.  And according to news reports today, when OneDrive officially rolls out, there will be a co-owner feature to share and sync multiple accounts together.  The news also includes that in addition to the 7GB of free storage that comes with every account, OneDrive will be making up to 5GB more available for free to users to refer others to the service.

I’m certainly looking forward to what comes next with OneDrive.  It’s freely available with a Hotmail or Outlook email.  Find out more this summer, when I will be teaching a class at the North Branch Library about using OneDrive. The date is Wednesday, August 27 at 6:00 pm, in other words, just in time for the start of a new school year.  Registration for this class will open at the end of April. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with questions at North Branch (330)456-4356, or Technology Training at (330)458-3150.