Microsoft takes cloud computing a notch higher

By James Ratemo

In a move to enhance its system for users, software maker Microsoft allows users up to 25GB free online storage to increase storage and sharing of files.

Dubbed Windows Live SkyDrive, the online folder means a user can store, access, and share thousands of documents, photos, and Microsoft Office files online and accessible from anywhere provided there is Internet connectivity.

This means one does not have to attach huge files or pictures and videos to send to another party but only one needs to share a password to the Sklydrive to allow the recipient download or view the stored files.

The SkyDrive comes with a password protection feature to secure files so you control who has access to them. At 25GB (That’s 25 1-GB USB sticks) it has enough capacity to store big PowerPoint presentations, videos, photos, graphics or other multi-media files.

Good news too is that, with Skydrive, you can create or edit Office files online even if you don’t have Office on your PC. For instance you can take your photos and videos and create movies with them in Windows Live Movie Maker then upload them to SkyDrive to share with others or to access them later from anywhere.

Beneficial to journalists

The Skydrive feature is especially beneficial to photojournalists and online journalists who have to send heavy files from the field to editors in newsrooms. With a Windows Live email account holders only need to upload them to Skydrive folder and alert the editor to pick them out.

The SKyDrive service is integrated with some Microsoft Office applications and, because of how it’s organized, outperforms its biggest rival, Google, in online storage.

Google for instance has google docs feature that allows online storage of documents but Microsoft’s SkyDrive has taken the concept a notch higher.

Skydrive’s 25GB capacity also eradicates need to carry files on laptops or external hard discs as the same can be accessed via the shared skydrivefolder from anywhere.

Computer crashes

Still if your need is not to share files, you can use the SkyDrive as a back up of your files so that in case your computer crashes you do not need to worry about your files.

Making the Skydrive shared, by sharing a password with intended users makes adding, updating and editing of the files easier and convenient.

Online security experts, however, deem the SkyDrive feature open for abuse unless Microsoft’s displays how to counter probable security challenge.

The experts argue that Microsoft needs to make a stronger security statement with SkyDrive by coming up with perhaps a free, ready and easy to use encryption function before business can embrace it without reservations.

At 25 GB of free storage, SkyDrive is more than most USB sticks or cameras can hold thus coming out a s a perfect back up storage for even personal files.

Skydrive also scores highly when it comes to interoperability. For instance, a Word 2003 document uploaded to SkyDrive on a Windows Vista-based PC can be easily shared, downloaded, and viewed in OpenOffice or on a virtual PC running Ubuntu Linux.

With Skydrive, there are no central management capabilities. On an individual basis, users can create folders for specific file types, make those folders private, shared with a limited group or made fully public.

With Windows 7 Streaming gets easier

Ever wished you could enjoy the music, videos, and pictures on your home PC while you’re away? This is perfectly possible with Remote Media Streaming in Microsoft’s Windows 7.

Forget about copying all your media from your home PC to your laptop: Remote Media Streaming taps into your complete Windows Media Player 12 library over the Internet.

Windows Media Player streams media from a home computer that stores digital media files to another computer connected to the Internet so you can access your media anywhere.

This Internet access to home media, or remote media streaming, frees you from having to transport large files on your laptop or digital media player if you want to play them on the go.

Remote media streaming also allows you to use a laptop with limited storage capacity to access a potentially large media collection on a desktop computer or home server.

Media libraries

All you need to set this up is to ensure both computers are running Windows 7.

Then you will need to associate both computers with an online ID, such as a Windows Live email address then when you connect through the Internet, the player will display and play the media libraries on your home PC the same way it does when you’re connected directly to your home network.

Better emailing experience

“Sorry I am out of office…for urgent enquiries contact my colleague… via email address…”

Have you ever sent an urgent email to someone and when you anxiously return to check for a reply you receive an automated out-of office reply like the one above?

How does it feel to have wasted time hoping for a reply only to notice that your intended recipient was out of office but had left an alternative email for you?

Well such inconvenience is a thing of the past with the new Microsoft Outlook 2010.

With Microsoft Outlook 2010, as you type in the email of the sender, who has activated an automatic out of office response, the reply pops up immediately before you click ‘send’ hence you are able to take immediate action.

With the Outlook package you can easily configure new and existing account, clean up your inbox, and visually see how much space is left in your mailbox. Backstage view replaces the traditional File menu in all Office 2010 applications to provide a centralised, organised space to manage your accounts.

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