Head out of the clouds
Microsoft has updated its SkyDrive cloud storage solution to feature a number of HTML5 technologies, bringing it up to date with the capabilities of the latest browsers - including Internet Explorer 9.
High on the list of reasons for making the change is performance; Microsoft reckons that page load times for a number of tasks - such as navigating folders with a lot of files in, or browsing photos - will drop from multiple seconds, to mere hundreds of milliseconds. The use of the HTML5 video tag means that compatible (read: H.264) videos uploaded to SkyDrive can be shared without the need for third party plugins to play them.
The main interface has been upgraded to look a lot like Windows. Files that were previously relegated to a number of different areas are now consolidated into a single point of entry, and assigned groups to separate them. Significantly, Microsoft has removed adverts from SkyDrive - at least for now.
Most features of the upgraded SkyDrive are supported by IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome - unsurprisingly as the latter three support much more of the HTML5 standard than IE9. Users of Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7 get special treatment, though, with hardware-accelerated rendering, and the ability to pin Skydrive to taskbar, giving quicker access to stored files, and enabling one-click creation of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents 'in the cloud.'
The photo gallery in SkyDrive has seen a particularly snazzy upgrade, with images loading in only when viewed, speeding up load times, and CSS3 transitions letting images flow around dynamically on page resized. The resizing eye candy is only available to Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 10, at the moment, but dynamic images and infinite scrolling are available universally.
The new version of SkyDrive is currently being rolled out, and it could be a while before everyone has it, but it should be available to all users soon.