Microsoft ties SkyDrive tightly to Windows 8

Microsoft(s msft) isn’t taking the cloud storage challenge lying down. The company plans to build in tight links from its upcoming Windows 8 client to its SkyDrive cloud storage, making it easy for users running Windows 8 on tablets, PCs or phones to store and access their digital stuff on SkyDrive fast and fluidly, according to post to the Building Windows 8 blog Monday.

While SkyDrive has been around for awhile, and claims 17 million users (and stores 10 petabytes of data), the bulk of the mind share around cloud storage has accrued to Dropbox, which at last count claimed 45 million users.

The blog, written by SkyDrive Program Managers Mike Torres and Omar Shahine, describes how Microsoft insiders have been using the Windows 8-SkyDrive tandem internally:

We clean install Windows 8 on a new PC and sign in, and all of our settings, browser history, and customizations just show up. In addition, one of the most important steps we take to make a new PC “ours” is to copy over our personal files – like documents and photos. With Windows 8, we wanted to make sure that your files would be instantly available and up-to-date as you move between PCs – without configuring add-ons or using a USB drive.

They also talk a little about how they’ve built the Windows 8 onramp to SkyDrive, the current iteration of which Microsoft describes as more a web site than a true cloud service.

 We built the entire app using modern web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5, and because of our recent updates to, we were able to use the same JSON APIs and JavaScript object model that the website uses. The only difference on Windows 8 is that we bind the results to modern controls that were built for touch. This is part of the reason it’s so fast, and the touch behavior works so well (and works on Windows on ARM too). Over time, we fully expect the Metro style app and to “converge” on functionality so there won’t be a question of which experience someone should use. When using Windows 8, the SkyDrive Metro style app will be the best way to browse and manage your SkyDrive.

“Metro” is Microsoft’s term for its tablet or phone interface.

Microsoft is expected to launch a consumer preview of Windows 8 at the Mobile World Conference next week in Barcelona.

Given the noise around cloud storage — from startups like Dropbox and Box, along with legacy behemoths including Microsoft and Google(s goog) with its long-rumored Google Drive — look for the battle to rage on.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user redjar