OneDrive Set to Get a Face Lift

As part of its Ignite 2017 conference in Orlando today, Microsoft revealed several updates it is bringing to OneDrive for consumers. Most notable are some tweaks coming to OneDrive’s web user interface (UI), as well as an improved sharing experience across platforms.

First up is the web experience, which Microsoft says it is updating to be “cleaner and more intuitive.” That’s in addition to some tweaks meant to make it easier to find content that has been shared and by whom in a new people card.

Quickly see what files and folders are new, what content has been shared with others as well as being able to see who has accessed the content and who has not with click of a single button via our new People Card and Info Pane.

The sharing experience is also being tweaked to be more consistent across platforms. Microsoft says it has standardized sharing across Windows, Mac and the web. The new sharing pane allows users to choose to share documents to specific people, anyone, or people within an organization.

All of this is in addition to a number of other, smaller tweaks for standard users as well as IT administrators. Here’s a look at what’s coming:

  • Support for synchronization of libraries encrypted with Information Rights Management (IRM) or Digital Rights Management (DRM)- We will now fully support the synching or DRM/IRM libraries in OneDrive.
  • Simple and secure external sharing without a Microsoft account- As demoed this week, we will soon be supporting support external sharing with out the need for a Microsoft Service Account (MSA) by allowing you to use Azure to create a one time use passcode to grant external users access to content.
  • Support for On-Prem customers with Windows and Android App- We are happy to announce we fully support our OneDrive On-Premise customers on both the Windows and Android platforms.
  • Sharing desktop notifications- New mobile and desktop notifications allow you to quickly see when files that have been shared have been opened or changed by the team.
  • Zip File Support- Now open zip files in the web view to see what’s inside and, pick and choose the files you would like to extract.
  • Integration of sync client into Mac Office- The OneDrive client will now be installed as part of the Office for Mac installation process.
  • Support for NGSC (next generation sync client) in SharePoint 2019
  • Open to modern web experience- When you click a file in OneDrive web or choose to open a file via the browser, you will now be put right into an edit mode allowing you to jump into working more quickly.
  • Files Restore- will enable self-service recovery from disastrous events such as mass deletes, ransomware, corruption, and other data loss scenarios.
  • Self Service Migration Toolkit- We are releasing a migration toolkit for self-service users looking to migrate from share drives or other cloud based services to OneDrive on their own.
  • Updates to our mobile client- To make our mobile client even easier to use, we are bringing over some of the great new functionality from our webpage to mobile. You will be able to quickly see what content has been shared with others as well as being able to see who has accessed the content and who has not.
  • Multi-Geo- We will now support the country specific location of user’s data to specific Azure region, helping our customers to better support country specific security and standard’s needs.
  • Service Level Encryption with Customer Key- This allows customers to hold their own private key to their cloud storage
  • Updates to OD Admin Center- Now you can see active accounts, file activity and view all OneDrive Message Center messages right from the OneDrive admin console. We have also added a slider to make moving from most to least permissive sharing permissions easier.

Microsoft also (finally) reconfirmed that Files On-Demand will be launching into general availability on October 17 alongside the Windows 10Fall Creators Update.

Microsoft Enhances OneDrive in a Big Way

One of the best ways to protect your photos is to back them up automatically using a cloud service. My favorite one for this is Microsoft’s OneDrive. Once installing OneDrive on your smartphone (and sign up – or into) the service you can setup automatic photo uploads. Once you do this you will be able to access your photos from wherever you are – on whatever device you are using, assuming you have internet access.

OneDrive Banner

I have been using OneDrive for years to backup and manage my photos and the service has improved over the years. This week Microsoft updated OneDrive which really makes this a great solution for anyone looking to backup and manage their photos.

Backing up your photos is incredibly important because someday your smartphone may (will) fail or be lost or stolen and you do not want to be in a position where all of your photos are gone.

Let’s take a look at the major OneDrive updates, including yes, a enhancement for Pokemon gamers.

Automatic albums is probably the most handy addition, and reminds us of Google Photos. OneDrive now detects when you took a few photos in a short period of time and in a particular location. The highest quality photos are selected and put into an album, and you get a notification when they’re ready to view and share. Automatic albums appear on OneDrive.com, in OneDrive’s mobile apps, and in the Windows 10 Photos app.

 

Speaking of the Windows 10 Photos app, you can now expect tighter integration with OneDrive. When you sign into Windows 10 with your Microsoft account, all of your OneDrive photos will now show up. You can also use the app to upload local albums to OneDrive.

 

The OneDrive.com website has gained a new “On this day” view in your All photos page. As the name implies, this view shows images you took over the years on that same day.

 

Another view is the one dedicated to your folders that have a lot of photos in them. The new photos view includes a hero image, larger thumbnails, and a revised menu to help you quickly create an album or share photos.

 

Search now works directly in the All photos view, understands photos that have been tagged, photos from a specific location, and even supports using emojis. These new types of searches work on OneDrive.com as well as the OneDrive mobile apps.

 

Last but not least, Microsoft is jumping on the Pokémon Go bandwagon. If you take screenshots of your captured Pokémon, you’ll want to have the OneDrive mobile app installed. Thanks to some Microsoft Research technology, as long as you have camera upload turned on, the app will save your screenshots and identify all 150 Pokémon for you. You can then view and search for the Pokémon right in OneDrive.

OneDrive-photos-experience-5

Updates like this one are a great reminder that competition in the cloud storage space is still fierce. And yet, no matter how many useful features Microsoft adds, it will continue to face an uphill battle because of its failures in mobile.

Office for Your Kids – for Free

How we all wish for free things. Oh an how I wish my boys (27 and 23) today were younger, perhaps in high school or heading into college today. Microsoft who already offers an amazing Office 365 for Home at $9.95 a month for an entire family with unlimited OneDrive storage is now actually offering Office for Students for free. Why did I have my boys so young?

Back in September 2014 Microsoft announced a program that let students at US schools see if they were eligible for a free Office 365 license. Students and teachers outside the US can now take advantage of the streamlined process as well.

Microsoft suggests that millions of students around the world now qualify for free Office subscriptions. Eligible students simply need a school email address in order to complete the sign up.

Interested students can check their eligibility on Microsoft’s Office 365 page. Teachers have their own page as well.

Although these students were technically already qualified for Office, they would have to go through a lengthy process with their schools to approve the subscription; the new process should make it much easier for students to sign up right away.

As before, students receive Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher with their subscriptions. They’ll also get 1 TB of OneDrive Storage and access to Office Online.

Here we have another example of services — good services — actually available for free.

Another 100GB Offer from OneDrive

When it comes to beating cloud storage rival DropBox, Microsoft is obviously practicing a two tiered strategy of working with the rival to improve cross-service integration, while at the same time looking to outpace it with aggressive promotions.

As the latest proof of this strategy demonstrates Microsoft is offering to boost usage of its cloud storage with a giveaway of 100 gigabytes of cloud storage to any user with a Dropbox account.  The promotion appears to apply to both new users and users with existing OneDrive accounts.  You can grab the extra storage go here.

With Windows 10 tightly integrating OneDrive into its core apps, including the new Music and Photos hubs, the cloud storage utility will play an increasingly important role.


 

The Cloud Remains The Property of… You

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular. This is the result of the falling cost of cloud storage coupled with the ability to access data from anywhere and on any device. Microsoft’s OneDrive is my cloud storage service of choice and without a doubt one of the better cloud platforms out there, particularly when it comes to value for money.

All users who sign up to One Drive now get 15GB of free storage, and further storage can be inexpensively added on an annual subscription basis. But if you get an Office 365 subscription – from as little as $69.99 a year – you’ll get unlimited One Drive storage included in the price. Given that you can now pick up a free Office 365 sub with many ultra-affordable Windows tablets and notebooks these days, Microsoft’s cloud solution clearly offers great value.

There is one… concern with all of this. What happens when your OneDrive subscription runs out? Does Microsoft instantly delete all of your files? Do you have to pay more money to be able to access your data?

Recently contacted by TechRadar Microsoft explained that after your subscription expires, “you’ll still be able to view, share and download files, but you won’t be able to upload files until you buy more storage”.

I would guess that you would not be able to share new versions of existing files once your account expires, but as Microsoft says, you will still be able to access all of your files on OneDrive even after you stop paying for your storage subscription, which of course means that you can later download your files and delete them from OneDrive if you truly want to cancel the cloud service.

This is all good news for users fearful of signing up for a cloud storage service and although this report only addresses Microsoft’s OneDrive I am confident that the majority of cloud storage services are following this same business model.

Remember the data is yours, the cloud storage service is simply a hard drive in the sky.

One Drive Goes Unlimited

Once, not very long ago Microsoft paid very little attention to the consumer market (except for the Xbox) instead choosing to spend their resources on enterprise. However times have been changing and Microsoft’s push towards capturing their share of the consumer market continues this week with a new OneDrive announcement.

Microsoft is the first internet based cloud service to offer unlimited storage. That’s right with a 365 subscription Microsoft now offers unlimited storage.

The new unlimited option will be slowly applied “over the coming months” to the OneDrive accounts of Office 365 subscribers.  The new advantage will apply to all Office 365 subscribers including Home, Personal, and even (already free) University customers.

Office 365 cloud

The announcement is sure to shock and upset online storage providers like Dopbox and Box. Companies like Dropbox have made good profits from subscription services. How will Microsoft’s new offering impact these paid subscription services for “storage only” providers?

What makes Microsoft’s plan unique is that you get Office 365 along with unlimited storage.  Microsoft will be the first to offer consumers this great feature.

Exactly how much damage Microsoft’s plan does remains to be seen at this point.  It is unclear exactly when the free-f unlimited storage will launch.  Microsoft is encouraging interested users to sign up for early access, but it has not committed to hard deadlines for the rollout.

Office 365 Gets Free for Students

If you have a son or daughter in college, or if you are a student yourself listen up.

Microsoft just reduced their Office 365 cost for college students to zero. Yes zero in this case means free. All you need to enroll is an active college email address.

Office 365 and OneDrive

College students who sign up will get:

Microsoft Word

Excel

PowerPoint

OneNote

Outlook

Access

Publisher

Plus permission to install Microsoft Office on up to 5 Windows or Mac computers as well as Free mobile access on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Plus tons of space in the cloud to store their school work.

1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage

Access to Office Online

This is a great service for any college student. In addition to the world’s best productivity suite Microsoft is offering 1TB of cloud storage. That can store ALOT of school work?

That’s not bad considering that at one time not very long ago Microosft Office cost about $100, or more.  This latest offer is part of Microsoft’s increased drive to stay competitive aas it struggles in the mobile market.

OneDrive on iOS Just Got Upgraded

Microsoft keeps working to improve their cloud storage service, OneDrive. If you have not checked OneDrive out the time may be right, even if you are an iPhone user.

This is because yesterday Microsoft updated their OneDrive iOS app to support a more seamless method of integration with their Office iPad apps. The app will now instantly open Word, Excel or PowerPoint from within OneDrive (which was not happening) if you tap on an Office document provided of course if you have the Office iPad apps installed. Previously OneDrive would simply display the document (.doc, .xls, .ppt, etc) using the iOS’ preview, which unfortunately struggles to properly format the more complex Office documents. The feature can be turned off by going to the OneDrive settings and toggling the ‘Use Office Apps’ switch.

The OneDrive app’s Camera Roll upload feature was also improved to support background uploads, allowing the app to contine upload images when you switch to another app. The app update also included various bug fixes, most notably making uploads more reliable.

In other news that I did cover earlier this week, Microsoft also announced that they would soon boost the storage space for Office365 users to 1TB per person on a family plan and 1TB per subscription for those on personal or university plans. For those without a Office365 subscription, the free storage available also got a boost to 15 GB (up from 7 GB) and standalone OneDrive storage plans were also reduced.

Cloud storage cost is falling like a rock and Microsoft like Google is beginning to offer excellent cloud storage plans in order to bring consumers into the ecosystems.

The New Office.com

Microsoft yesterday officially launched Office.com. This is a online version of Microsoft Office.

You may not know that Microsoft has an online version and that’s why this post is here. If you’re already using Office Online on One Drive (formerly Sky Drive) or on SharePoint at work, you should really check this out.

All you need to get started is a Microsoft Account (available with any email address) and once you log in, you can use these free online versions of the Office applications. Your files are automatically saved to One Drive, so you can share them with others and  work together on documents, presentations, spreadsheets and notebooks in real-time.

Get started with Office Online at Office.com

There are hundreds of Word, PowerPoint and Excel templates available with just a click. Budgets, resumes, calendars and more, all available online, for free at Office.com.

This is a very cohesive Microsoft experience, including in one place, OneDrive and Outlook.com, Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online. Included now in an app switcher which lets you easily switch between email, storage and the files that you are working on without having to navigate in and out of our online services.

Simply choose from the drop down in the upper left hand corner to access the service you need. A new browser tab will open up for you, and now you can move back and forth effortlessly across the Microsoft tools you use to get things done.

SkyDrive Becomes OneDrive

Microsoft’s cloud storage service is about to have a name change and although the change was somewhat forced on Microsoft I believe the new name actually makes sense and in the end works better then SkyDrive.I have been a big fan of SkyDrive since late 2011 and although I have been calling for better built in music integration, that aside Microsoft’s cloud storage service is one of the best available today, especially if you are a Microsoft Office user.

Microsoft’s cloud storage service will be rebranded ”One Drive”. Last year the British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC files suit against Microsoft stating that they owned the “SkyDrive” name.  Microsoft deciding not to fight this one reached an agreement last July for an undisclosed sum, after the British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC won an initial case in a British court against Microsoft’s usage of SkyDrive as Sky Broadcasting Group holds a trademark for the name in Britain.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft was given “a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand”. Microsoft, though has not said when exactly OneDrive would fully replace SkyDrive as the name of the service, but currently maintains that OneDrive brand is “coming soon”. 

Microsoft’s cloud storage service will be rebranded ”One Drive” after British broadcaster BSkyB objected to the earlier name “SkyDrive.”

A settlement was reached by the two sides last July for an undisclosed sum, after the British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC won an initial case in a British court against Microsoft’s usage of SkyDrive as Sky Broadcasting Group holds a trademark for the name in Britain.

Microsoft, though has not said when exactly OneDrive would fully replace SkyDrive as the name of the service, but currently maintains that OneDrive brand was “coming soon”.

According to commentators, while the rebranding would not change the service’s logo – two blue clouds on a white background – it would align the name with other company brands. Microsoft also reports that other then the name change existing users should see no change or interruption as a result of this.

 

Microsoft unveiled the new name yesterday in the US, saying OneDrive conveyed the mission of the service, which was to let users access their important files from many devices by storing them all in one location. “We know that increasingly you will have many devices in your life, but you really want only one place for your most important stuff,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We believe the new OneDrive name conveys the value we can deliver for you and best represents our vision for the future.”

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