The cloud, that’s where every big tech company under the sun is heading to. Cloud storage recently came into focus again with rumors that Google would launch their long awaited Google Drive service in the near future.
Microsoft has been one step ahead of Google with SkyDrive, the company’s cloud hosting, document management and media publishing service. The storage space SkyDrive is offering is considerably larger than that of popular comparable services such as Dropbox.
SkyDrive did however lack features that made the service less usable. Probably the biggest were missing desktop clients for Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Only mobile clients are offered directly by Microsoft to SkyDrive users. And while third party applications like SkyDrive Explorer integrate the service into the operating system, it is not the same as a first party data synchronization client.
Users of the Brazilian website Gemind have noticed that Microsoft is now advertising PC and Mac SkyDrive clients on the site.
Note that the announcement refers to a SkyDrive application for PC and MAC explicitly, which suggests that this has nothing to do with Windows Live Mesh. A Dropbox like client that would synchronize local data with SkyDrive automatically would definitely improve the functionality of Microsoft’s cloud hosting service. Considering that SkyDrive offers document management capabilities that Dropbox does not offer, it is fair to say that Microsoft may be at an advantage here, provided that the client is equally impressive as the Dropbox client.
The Brazilian site furthermore noticed that Microsoft is offering options to increase the available SkyDrive space. A screenshot reveals that the company plans to offer 20, 50 and 100 Gigabyte storage plans for $11, $27 and $54 per year.
Microsoft clearly has the intention to position SkyDrive as a Dropbox, Apple iCloud and Google Drive competitor. The addition of desktop applications and storage plans will resolve two usability issues that have held SkyDrive back in comparison to other cloud hosting services. It remains to be seen how effective the desktop applications are when it comes to synchronizing data. For now though, it looks like a great addition.