Microsoft recently released SkyDrive, a web-based storage and sharing utility. In addition to being a handy way to access up to 25GB of your files from pretty much anywhere, as well as optionally share those files with others, SkyDrive features Office Web Apps – browser-based versions of some programs in the Microsoft Office Suite.
While these web apps don’t have every single feature of their desktop counterparts, I was pleasantly surprised to see how feature-filled they are. Anyone who’s familiar with recent editions of Microsoft Office will have no problem navigating the near mirror-image web apps.
I was particularly impressed with the PowerPoint web app. Although again, not containing every single feature of the full desktop version of Microsoft PowerPoint, it’s quite a convenient way to make simple presentations, or make last-minute changes to presentations on computers that don’t have Office installed. Users can even view the slideshow in the browser, and at least in IE, if you switch to fullscreen mode and hide the status bar, it’s almost as good as viewing it offline. I did notice that it doesn’t quite look as nice in Google Chrome, however.
SkyDrive also allows you to store and share photos and bookmarks, though I think I’ll stick to Flickr or other social media outlets for sharing photos, and browser-based bookmark management. In fact with Google Chrome I can store my bookmarks in Google Docs and sync them between all my computers automatically. However, for general file storage, Google Docs only allows 1 GB for free, as opposed to SkyDrive’s 25 GB. And of course, you can save to your SkyDrive straight from Microsoft Office, so even if you’re not planning on editing your files from the browser, it’s a really convenient way to share your files with other people or your various computers. It seems to have good Windows Phone 7 support as well.
I would like to see slightly more robust formatting features in the web apps, particularly “Paste as Plain Text” for convenient, contamination-free web copying, and conditional formatting for Excel (though I would assume that conditional formatting would carry over if you edit the workbook in offline Excel.) All in all though, I’d say SkyDrive is pretty useful. Even if you only use it for storage and sharing purposes, 25 GB for free is pretty tough to beat.
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