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SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

Redmond bakes cloud storage into the desk-and-slab-top OS

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Microsoft has detailed, in a blog post just how SkyDrive will behave under Windows 8.1.

Not everything in the post is new: we've known about offline storage and using SkyDrive as the default drive since the Windows 8.1 preview.

Among the newly-revealed features is the ability for Windows Store apps to save to or load from SkyDrive, without users having to make any adjustments other than setting up a SkyDrive account.

Another newly-disclosed feature is “placeholders” that will, Microsoft writes, “look and feel like normal folders and files” but don't refer to a local copy of the data they contain. That won't arrive until users click on the file, at which point it will download. In this way Microsoft hopes to preserve disk space on mobile devices.

Caching of image thumbnails means browsing photos will be possible without requiring users to download the whole image.

Combined with another new feature, the ability to denote which SkyDrive sub-folders will automatically sync and which won't, Microsoft says local storage requirements have plummeted to as little as five per cent of previous levels.

Another nice addition is collection of metadata from SkyDrive for inclusion in Windows 8.1's local index, as this will mean search results should list files on the C: Drive and in SkyDrive, even if those files aren't yet stored locally.

The newly-revealed features will be welcomed by Windows users and represent a new level OS-to-cloud integration. Rivals may feel Microsoft Microsoft has thumbed through its playbook of moves dedicated to making sure its own services behave beautifully under Windows. That's not a suggestion Redmond is up to its old “embrace and extend” tricks, but rivals reading about SkyDrive's role in the new OS will surely need to contemplate upgrading their wares to match the out-of-the-box Windows 8.1 cloud storage experience. ®

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