A bit of a long in the tooth title there, but since the rumours of SkyDrive getting a Windows and Mac app and increased storage options, I’ve been thinking about it’s role in Microsoft’s ecosystem.
SkyDrive is already baked into Windows Phone, so it’s a good reference point on what we might see from Microsoft in their upcoming products and updates. In it’s current form, it’s accessible from Office and Pictures. Office lets you open files from your SkyDrive, edit them, and save them back to your SkyDrive as if modifying a file on your local file system, which is pretty nice. Pictures is where SkyDrive integration shines. Any app that uses photos will let you browse through both your local storage and SkyDrive and use a photo the exact same regardless of its location, meaning I can have access to my entire photo library as if it were on my phone.
On the desktop end of things, Windows 8 will have the same functionality as above, with the added benefit of syncing system settings between devices. Windows 7 doesn’t have any support itself, but Office has integration of it’s own. Hopefully with the rumoured Windows and Mac apps, this will be addressed. I can only see one way Microsoft could introduce a parallel experience to Windows Phone and Windows 8: A mountable file system. Add your SkyDrive Pictures folder to your Pictures library, boom, SkyDrive and local pictures frolicking together as if on the same system. Make it the default save location for Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, etc. and what do you have? SkyDrive is now your user folder.
I think this is what Microsoft are working towards. All your libraries reside on SkyDrive, so all your libraries are the same on all your Windows-powered devices. If they add in syncing of application data, then it will truly become your new user folder, and with 100GB available for $50 a year, a well capable, reasonably priced one.
I’ve yet to touch on the Xbox. The Xbox doesn’t have a file system, at least not one that resembles Windows. It does however have a library system of sorts. Introduce SkyDrive and you have instant access to your photos, videos and music, without needing to have your PC on.
If Microsoft can pull this off, I think it will be epic, and offer a truly consistent and integrated experience with little involvement from the user. I want this, Microsoft. I want this badly. If it works, it will be a great step forward in the war of ecosystems.