Windows 8's secret weapon
(MoneyWatch) There's been a lot written about Windows 8 in the last week, which isn't surprising. Last Wednesday saw the unveiling of the beta version, known formally as the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. But lost amidst all the talk about the new app store, the touch-first interface and the modern "Metro" look is the fact that Windows 8 incorporates a truly innovative step forward for the world's biggest operating system.
Windows 8 integrates the cloud across the entire OS in the form of SkyDrive.
You might know SkyDrive as Microsoft's lesser-known competitor to alternatives like Dropbox and Box. SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution like those services, and a generous one at that -- SkyDrive includes 25GB of storage space. But it hasn't really caught on because there's no desktop client to make it easy to copy files back and forth. That's no longer true. In Windows 8, SkyDrive is a part of the underlying fabric of the OS. When you open the file dialog to find a document or photo, for example, SkyDrive is always one of the locations options.
And because Windows wants you to connect your computer to your Windows Live account by signing into the PC with your "Microsoft Account," you're signed into SkyDrive all the time. Just choose the SkyDrive option and you can open or save files directly to the cloud.
This could be a real game changer for business users everywhere. Today, cloud storage is something of an afterthought. Using Dropbox or Google Docs is like taking advantage of a gadget that's just kind of bolted onto the side of your favorite appliance; it might work, but you have to think about it. SkyDrive in Windows 8 makes local storage and local backups irrelevant.
Get ready for to stop worrying about backups. Get ready for pervasive cloud storage -- check out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview at the Windows website.
Dave Johnson was employed by Microsoft Corporation at the time this article was written.
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