Microsoft Rebrands SkyDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is coming to a PC near you, soon.

Microsoft recently announced in a blog post that it was rebranding its SkyDrive internet file access and storage product as Microsoft OneDrive.

one drive

The move comes after Microsoft lost a trademark case to European TV provider BSkyB.  In June 2011, BSkyB filed suit against Microsoft over SkyDrive indicating that the use of the name would confuse its customers, as it is a streaming and mobile pay-TV provider and also had an online storage service called “Sky Store & Share” that it offered  from 2008-2011.

Rather than appeal the judgment that was granted by the England and Wales High Court in June 2013, Microsoft and BSkyB announced a settlement in July 2013 where Microsoft would rebrand its cloud based storage service. Sometimes its easier to concede defeat than prove your point, and while I don’t agree with the action (because its really unlikely users of BSkyB’s service would be confused by the names Microsoft SkyDrive and BSkyB Sky Store and Share… I’m just sayin’…)

What we’re seeing now are the results of that settlement. Microsoft will rebrand SkyDrive as OneDrive. The product was previously known as Live Mesh, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Sync, and Windows Live FolderShare before being rebranded as Microsoft SkyDrive in February of 2012.  The product has had one heck of a history and has had issues finding its identity in a market dominated by Dropbox, Google Drive as well as competing with Apple’s iCloud.

Microsoft is spinning this rebranding as the “one” place where you can put all of your stuff. If you’ve used previous versions of SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro, you don’t need to do anything.  The service will continue to work like it always has. It’s really nothing more than a name change and rebranding of the product.

As a quick aside, I really like the way SkyDrive, now Microsoft OneDrive, works. If I wasn’t already huge into Google services, it’s a service I would seriously consider buying online storage from. Unfortunately, its pricing plans aren’t as generous with either storage or pricing options (see additional information later in this article). However, 25GB for free is a really nice plan, and is likely enough for most people. If you qualify for the 25GB plan, and don’t have cloud storage for your documents, this could be a really great option for you. You might want to look into it…

Interestingly enough, this is one area where Microsoft really has outshined Apple.  iCloud is a huge mess. Its API’s are confusing and difficult to work with. Many developers who want to build iCloud support into their apps either don’t or can’t because it’s too difficult to work with or because the features they need aren’t built into the SDK/API.  Apple even has trouble getting iCloud to work with its own apps.

Microsoft on the other hand has (now called) OneDrive support built into all of its apps.  OneNote can natively save notebooks either directly to OneDrive’s application interface or physically to a synchronized folder in OneDrive. The choice is yours.  Apple could really do themselves a favor here and figure out how this works and then model iCloud after it. It might do them a great deal of good. I know Apple wants ALL of iCloud to work like OneNote works with OneDrive – where your data saves there automatically and just appears as available when you open the app, but that’s part of the problem that they’re having with the service. It doesn’t work right.

OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox all work the same way – they sync a folder and its subfolders to the cloud.  Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t want to do this. They’ve had ample opportunity to look at the model and try to use it.  For some reason, they don’t want the data on your drive if it doesn’t have to be. Instead, they want iCloud to be just another storage location – like any other folder that is physically ON your Mac – so you can save documents there and retrieve them when needed. The data doesn’t reside on your Mac. It’s out THERE somewhere. They just don’t have this figured out right yet. I don’t know why.  Both OneDrive and Google Drive can do that, and have desktop apps work with the data.

Interestingly enough, that was what Apple’s iDrive did about 6 or so years ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on…at ALL.  Apple discontinued the service and I can’t find any information on it under Apple’s name at all. iDrive itself is still available as a Dropbox-like clone.  It at least looks like it’s a decent option, and its pricing options seem very competitive.  Their 1/2 terabyte option, priced at $75 a year, is one of the best deals I’ve seen. Its 69% cheaper than Google Drive’s 400GB option (at $240 a year), and you get 100GB more space, too.

Unfortunately, right now, you can’t sync folder contents to Apple’s iCloud. If you could, I’d use it instead of Google Drive.  However, it doesn’t, so I don’t.  However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple reconsiders that strategy so that more developers – and therefore, more applications – can use the service.

What do you think? Is the OneDrive rebrand a good move for Microsoft? Can Apple fix iCloud, or its always going to be a hot mess?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the discussion, below.

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  • larrymcj

    I live in primarily an Apple ecosystem, except I use MS Office for Mac and Google Apps for Business for my Gmail. Until recently, I’ve used Google Drive for storage simply because it was free, convenient, and had a decent iOS app for viewing documents. As the author here says…iCloud simply isn’t an option because of Apple’s (total oversight in my opinion) to make it a true cloud storage solution.

    But for the past few days I’ve been trying out SkyDrive and its sibling iOS apps and I must say SkyDrive has come a long way in the past few years. The free 7GB are sufficient for most casual users (better than 2GB with Dropbox) and for merely personal storage and keeping files/folders in sync on my Mac it works very well. And the iOS app is equally as good as that of Google Drive or Dropbox.

    So, I guess I don’t really care what Microsoft renames it. I will most likely continue to use it, but FWIW, I actually like OneDrive better than SkyDrive

    • Christopher Spera

      Thanks, Larry. I appreciate it a great deal. There’s a lot to like about SkyDrive/OneDrive. Microsoft really did get this piece right. If Apple can get it together and do the same thing with iCloud; or if Microsoft could rinse repeat with other products, then both would see huge success.

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