Well, that didn’t take long. Just three weeks after Microsoft announced it would changing the name of its cloud storage service from SkyDrive to OneDrive, the switch has taken effect. Here are the upsides and downsides of the move.
Increase your storage through referrals A basic OneDrive account gives you 7GB of storage (though longtime Microsoft account owners have 25GB). You can now score an extra 500MB of space by referring a friend to sign up (they get an extra 500MB as well). The maximum you can score from referrals is 5GB (that’s 10 friends if you’re too lazy to do the maths). Helpful, though actually finding people who don’t already have some form of Microsoft account might be more of a struggle.
Automated backup for Android Microsoft already supported automatic backup of pictures from Windows Phone, but now it offers that option from Android or iOS as well — and gives you a bonus 3GB of storage if you activate it.
In this area, phone owners are now quite spoiled for choice, since you can automatically back up to Dropbox from virtually every platform, to Drive from Android, and to iCloud from iOS. (As ever, be aware that this option can use a lot of data if you allow uploads via your mobile connection.)
A protracted switchover. While you can now sign into OneDrive via the web site, the name change isn’t reflected in Windows or in other apps that use SkyDrive such as Office. The earliest those changes are likely to happen is on the next Patch Tuesday, which will be on 11 March.
Business options not clear yet Microsoft says it will announce more details of its OneDrive For Business options at its SharePoint conference in Las Vegas, which kicks off on 3 March. Until then, we’ll have to wait.
Coding hassles for developers. As we noted when the changeover was first announced, developers who have used SkyDrive will have to recode their apps to reflect the new name. We’d expect the existing APIs and referrals to work for quite a while and most of the changes will be relatively small, but it will still require some recoding and resubmission of apps.
Brand confusion. OneDrive used to be called SkyDrive, and used to be called Windows Live before that. Indeed, if you go to onedrive.com, you end up on onedrive.live.com. While the name of the service doesn’t matter nearly as much as how effectively it works, consistency helps.
Microsoft isn’t the only big player to have had issues in this space: Google Docs became Google Drive, and Apple dumped its MobileMe brand in favour of the name iCloud. So the transition can be managed, but life is arguably easier if you’re Dropbox and you never have to change your name.