announced Windows Live SkyDrive, the final product name for its online storage solution - previously known as Windows Live Folders. Windows Live SkyDrive has a few new features and enhanced UI, in line with upcoming changes across other Windows Live services.Today Microsoft
Windows Live SkyDrive offers users 500MB of web space for storing and sharing files. Microsoft says it is like "a personal 'harddrive' on the internet". By default, you get several protected directories which you can store your files in, meaning they are private and protected from public viewing. You can also share folders publicly, or just to specific people on your Windows Live Contacts list. The service allows you to set 'read' and 'write' permissions for folders. Windows Live Folders was first discussed back in April 2006, so this is the culmination of over a year's work.
Currently SkyDrive competes with a host of other online storage solutions, including Omnidrive, Steekr, XDrive, box.net and others. Many of these startups attempt to differentiate themselves by offering 'value add' services such as social networking functionality (e.g. Myfabrik), APIs and partnerships with other web 2.0 services (e.g. Omnidrive). Some also focus on specific parts of online storage - e.g. Egnyte is focused on collaborative document sharing. Also a lot of the so-called WebOS startups offer online storage as a key part of their package. Finally, social networking services such as Twango, recently acquired by Nokia, have online storage as an essential part of their make-up.
Of course the big companies can afford to just offer a fairly low-frills version of an online storage product, and compete on volume. As yet, the persistent rumors of a Google GDrive have yet to be realised, however there is one bigco that is well advanced in this space - Amazon.com. The e-commerce giant's Simple Storage Service (S3) is part of a compelling WebOS stack that is being used by a lot of startups as their storage solution. Amazon's solution is not free, although unlike SkyDrive it offers unlimited storage.
How SkyDrive works
Brandon LeBlanc from Microsoft created a video demo, which shows the new product in action: