Microsoft increases SkyDrive to 25GB of free cloud

WindowsliveskydriveIt’s been interesting to watch Windows Live SkyDrive mature in terms of capacity. When Live Folders was revamped as SkyDrive last August, Microsoft was willing to dole out 500MB of online storage. February of this year brought expanded availability to 35 countries and upped the ante to 5GB. Now, Redmond is going all-in with 25GB of free storage, not to mention some new features. Although I have a SkyDrive account, my usage of it has been minimal since there are so many competiting storage and synchronization services, with most offering far more capacity.

The SkyDrive team promises more to come in terms of functionality, but there’s some useful tidbits in the most recent offering, especially for digital photographers:

  • Larger photo thumbnails for those of us with big thumbs. I kid… the photo sizes are increased.
  • A web-based slideshow function that works on "any browser" but is optimized on machines with Silverlight installed. I didn’t test the any browser claim… but I’d expect this to function fine on IE, Firefox, Opera, and Safari at a minimum. Previously SkyDrive worked on PCs and Macs with IE 6/7 or Firefox 1.5 and up.
  • You can tag people in your photos, something I didn’t enjoy doing until I started to use the function on Facebook. Makes it easy to find friends in pics.

There are additional features in the new release of SkyDrive as well, some geared toward data control. You can now move and copy files between folders and there’s a handy download as .ZIP file feature. SkyDrive might not be as advanced as some other services out there, but it’s worth a look, especially with the expanded capacity. I’m hoping that Microsoft gets SkyDrive pulled in to Live Mesh or at least starts blending similar services together and some seamless storage and playback of media files would be useful on a netbook in my opinion. For the moment though, with so many similar but not quite the same services, there’s still too many clouds overlapping in Redmond.