Microsoft is announcing the final product name for what was previously known as Windows Live Folders. Windows Live SkyDrive gets not only its final product name but also a few new features and enhanced user interface reflecting changes coming for many of the Windows Live services including Windows Live Spaces.
So what’s Windows Live SkyDrive? Windows Live SkyDrive is a new, currently-still-in-beta Windows Live service that gives users 500MB of web space for the online storing and sharing of files. Think of it as “a personal hard drive on the Internet”.
By default, you get several protected directories which you can store your files in. These directories are completed protected from the public. Only you can view them. However, Windows Live SkyDrive allows you create or choose specific folders to share with everyone (Public folders) or specific people on your Windows Live Contacts list. You can set specific permissions for those viewing your folders as well–such as someone who can contribute (add and remove files) or someone who is simply just a reader. Your Public folder allows ONLY reader permissions for the public in viewing files within the folder.
The service is free, but requires a Windows Live account which is also free; you can create your Windows Live account from the SkyDrive page if you don’t have a Live account already.
The overall integration of Microsoft’s Live services isn’t fabulous right now, honestly; the user interface can be downright confusing in places. That said, the SkyDrive service itself seems like a solid bit of online storage and filesharing space that could serve individuals and even some small businesses well.
Some caveats: there isn’t any Windows Explorer/Web Folder/Xbox Live integration of any sort(yet?), and currently, because SkyDrive is in beta, only users from the US, UK and India are able to participate and use it.
In related news, Google’s offering paid storage now as well; if you have a Google account, go here: Purchase Storage. Plans start at $20/year for 6GB, with larger plans ranging up to 250GB. Don’t forget that you already get 1GB with Picasa and nearly 3GB of space with Gmail for free.
The usual security and data protection caveats apply to any such services, of course; the value of your data to you and/or your business should ultimately determine your level of comfort with storing anything online anywhere.
[some SkyDrive portions shamelessly pilfered from windowsvistablog.com]