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Be Afraid, Very Afraid.. or not?

Venturebeat had an article last week about how companies like Box and Dropbox need to be worried about the pending arrival of Google Drive.

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The truth is some will flock to Google Drive simply because of the Google halo effect. Many Dropbox users will remain in place and adopt Google Drive as yet an additional cloud storage option but few will abandon their existing cloud storage.

Really there is no fight between Dropbox or Box and Google Drive. This is all about Google Drive, SkyDrive and possibly iCloud.

This is Your (Next) Cloud OS

We are going to wake up and discover that our “desktop” applications, files, storage and more are all in the Cloud and the choices we made will ultimately require us to say “Yes that’s my OS.” Or, “Oh well, call IT and let’s start migrating everything.”

The fight over your data and where it’s stored is the fight over which ecosystem you choose to work with next.

SkyDrive already provides organic application functionality with Office Web Apps and Windows Phone / iPhone integration. For the professional or company user simply think Office365. We can expect Google Drive to integrate with Google Apps, Gmail Attachments, Picasa and Apps in the Google Marketplace.

Warptest Predictions

Google’s mystery outage several days ago may have been connected to their roll-out of a new Network but many Google Apps and Gmail users were left hanging; once again not selling me on the reliability. However, to roll as massive an undertaking as Google Drive would need a serious upscale of available storage, improved performance and redundancy.

Was this Google Drive infrastructure rolling out?

In a previous blog post I wrote about things Microsoft needs to change to fully adopt a Live OS philosophy one being full SkyDrive-Windows Explorer integration .. Some has been done with Windows 8 but there is more:

For SkyDrive to compete and maintain any advantage it needs to: –

  • Make SkyDrive integral in Windows Explorer (as above)
  • Kill file size upload limitations. 50 Mb, really, REALLY?
  • Work 100% with any Smartphone OS or browser
  • Seamless Antivirus / Antimalware integration
  • Better file management with apps to manage your SkyDrive just the way you do locally
  • Ultimately: I want to be able to install my own apps and run them from my SkyDrive just like my C:/ drive

Basically, for a winning UX the user should not feel any difference between using local or cloud storage and yes, it’s time for this to stop being an add-on to any OS but instead it should come as an integral part of the OS functionality. Will you be moving your files to Google Drive or maybe it’s time to take a look at SkyDrive?

==== 23/04/2012==== update =====>

Since writing this I was contacted by @Arcadiy over twitter. He is the Program Manager for Skydrive and he corrected a mistake I made that the upload cap was increased to 300Mb from last week and hasn’t been 50Mb in over a year. So first let me say  sorry for the error. Secondly, nice to meet you (virtually) and finally thanks for the amazing work on Skydrive.

In addition Skydrive launched a new App today for PC / Mac allowing the user to upload their data via the app which sits in the System Tray of your PC (sorry I don’t have a Mac myself to check the Mac version). Let me just say that first impressions are very positive and I shall be deep diving this over the next few days.

Finally and at last check this was still there, Skydrive are offering a great freebie: existing Skydrive users can upgrade their storage to 25GB from here or actually pay for additional storage.

I don;t know about you but I continue to be impressed by the outstanding work being done on Skydrive, keep it up guys.

Technorati Tags: ,,,,,CloudOS

Skype Warptest-ed

Skype, the popular VOIP application has been under the microscope lately. I’ve looked at it on Windows PC, Windows Mobile (legacy but working version), Symbian, Linux and other platforms. Why you ask, mainly because I frequently get asked about it in a support context.

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As you know in May 2010 Microsoft announced their acquisition of Skype.for $8.5 Billion. Since then the biggest thing we have heard was the news that it will be developed for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. ((Since I began writing this I found way more interesting news about Skype for PC incorporating HD video, Facebook and Bing Bar integration))

As I looked this popular app both as a day-to-day user and as a tester I found it frustrating at times and was hard pressed to put my finger on why.

Great expectations

So I sat down with a tumbler of scotch and mulled exactly was bothering me. I came to the conclusions that: –

  • It hasn’t really progressed from a Desktop Application (even the versions ported to mobile platforms).
  • It is the kid in school who always gets the could do better  and  does not play well with others on their report card.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Ebay and Skype themselves before Microsoft didn’t fulfill Skype’s potential was that they simply didn’t see what they had.

Is Skype simply a VOIP application? Definitely not.

Warptest Predictions or 2 Things Skype needs…

Once again I’m going to indulge in something between predictions and the hope that someone at Redmond reads this and says “”Hey great ideas, let’s hire this guy and run with this”: –

  • Full integration into Windows Live. Skype is at its core a Desktop app but the way to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century is to make it part of Microsoft’s cloud ecosystem. Just as a small example, if I send or receive files via Skype the best place to store them as a default location is not the local device I’m using, it’s my Skydrive. For those who don’t favor Live add an option here for Dropbox, Box.Net, Google Apps and that way when it hits Europe you can avoid those pesky EU non-compete suits.

Skype - SkyDrive

  • Turn it into a social media hub. Yes, Skype needs to maintain it’s core VOIP functionality but it already has some Facebook integration. Adding full integration allows a user to also post to Twitter and other Social Networks; VOIP / IM were the natural precursors of the Real-Time Social Networking Revolution so this would be a case of natural evolution. Skype as a Social Networking Hub would open a huge can of whup-*ss on applications like Seesmic or Tweetdeck.

I’m not even going to get into the potential as a commerce or pay-per-service platform that would be well served looking at models like Linden Labs’ Second Life for just how easy an application can make it for their users to pay each other for services or products.

I guess my last question is if Skype should be proudly 100% Microsoft then will I be able to search accounts via Bing and where does this leave MS Messenger?

I applied early on for a Beta invite of Microsoft Office365. Microsoft’s business offering for Office in the Cloud.

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About a month ago I finally received my invite and logged in. I was fascinated to see how Microsoft was going to compete with Google Apps and other Productivity Web Apps. It took me approximately 10 minutes to realize what a world-class winner Office365 was.

Those of you with a Windows Live account (the free version) have access to all the Live services including mail via Hotmail, storage in Skydrive and collaborative documentation/ productivity using Office Live. Office365 takes it up several notches for businesses of any scale.

What’s in the box?

Well, there’s no box but if there was it would be: –

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Outlook / Exchange – with full functionality: Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks …

Lync (download required from Office365 dashboard) – Pro MS Communicator.

Sharepoint – Site, Site Template, Tools and Central shared Document Storage.

Word, Excel, Powerpoint, One Note

Outlook Mobile Support (at present supported by US carriers only)

The Office365 Beta allows you to define 25 users/ licenses and to configure what permission level and applications they have access to use. Default login is https so security is predefined for the free domain domain.onmicrosoft.com or you can opt to use your existing domain. Should you opt for the first option this comes with 25Gb of storage.

All administration is done through the Admin Web Page and it couldn’t be easier or more intuitive to use than this.

In addition the Beta is free for 6 months, enough time for your business to decide you can’t live without Professional Office in the Cloud.

Office365 is going to be a game-changer on several levels but I’m watching to see how this is going to affect IT staffing. Installing new versions, service packs, patches or simply adding additional applications for a user is going to be scripted allowing a much leaner IT support staff.

Absent Friends

Noticeably absent from the Beta is Microsoft Access. Does this mean no Access anymore or is this going to remain a pure Client application? If not then are users going to have to upscale to Microsoft SQL Azure?

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Competitive or Not?

A final word, right now I don’t have pricing for this but money issues aside if I had to choose between Office365 and Google Apps for my organization; having used prior versions of Office and Google Apps I would definitely be sticking with Office for many reasons.