Microsoft (MSFT) under new CEO Satya Nadella has been making lots of news lately, from launching an iPad version of Office to updating Windows 8 again to make it easier for keyboard and mouse users. So, you might have missed its rebranding last month of what it used to call SkyDrive.
Microsoft now calls its cloud storage service OneDrive, and except for the name and some new offerings, it's pretty much the same thing the company has offered for years. It was established back in 2007 and reinvigorated in 2012 when it was revamped and integrated into Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
The name change is the result of a trademark dispute Microsoft lost last year with British Sky Broadcasting. Sky claimed Microsoft was infringing on its trademark and cited the potential for consumer confusion.
You'll find Microsoft's website now clearly indicates the service is called OneDrive, and Microsoft Office and smartphone apps (like the iPhone version) refer to it as OneDrive as well. Windows 8 itself hasn't caught up yet -- still calling it SkyDrive in the operating system's file structure.
To mark the rebranding, Microsoft has rolled out some improvements. If you're an Android user, for example, you might appreciate having access to a feature that iPhone users have had for some time: automatic photo backup from the phone to OneDrive. On both phone platforms, the service works similarly to Dropbox, backing up photos automatically in the background.
And if you turn on photo backup (on either Android or iOS) you get an extra 3GB of OneDrive storage automatically.
In addition, Microsoft has added some new storage bonuses. For example, if you sign up for Office 365, you get an additional 100GB of storage for the one year of the subscription.
In the past year, SkyDrive -- er, OneDrive -- has evolved quickly from a clumsy cloud service that Microsoft didn't really understand how to leverage into a solid storage and backup system that's deeply integrated into Windows 8, Office and Windows Phone. The default storage location for Office, for example, is OneDrive, which places a copy of the file locally on your hard drive and also in the cloud.
New subscribers can get 7GB for free and add 50GB for $25 per year, 100GB for $50 or 200GB for $100, on top of any free storage bonuses you might accrue from promotions.
Curiously, this wasn't the first high-profile trademark suit that Redmond has lost in the wake of Windows 8's release. The German company Metro AG sued Microsoft for using the term Metro to refer to its "modern" design aesthetic in Windows 8.
And even though Microsoft had been somewhat schizophrenic about using that term even before the lawsuit, the court battle ended with the new interface having essentially no name at all.
Photo courtesy Microsoft