With the recent series of updates to Windows Live’s web services (Calendar, Hotmail, Photos, SkyDrive and more), we’re seeing a tip of the iceberg of what’s to come with Windows Live Wave 4 (in fact, we know this because all of the web services have been updated to v15). However, these are no way reflective of what Wave 4 is all about and the recent updates seemed more to simply address what customers wanted with Windows Live. So if this is not it, what are we to expect for the future of Windows Live?
Recent developments seemed to demonstrate the idea that Wave 4 is all about “simplification”. One prime example of this simplification is the retirement of Events and having it replaced by Calendar. Extending this idea further, recent developments around Windows Live seems to show that SkyDrive will play a prominent role in the future of Windows Live services. We already have Photos built on top of the SkyDrive service, and earlier this year we’ve seen that Favorites has been integrated into SkyDrive. We’re even seeing that Office Live will be merged into SkyDrive with the Office Web Apps integrated well within (remember that Office Web Apps supposed to replace Office Live Workspace). With all these services built within SkyDrive, it looks like Microsoft is positioning SkyDrive to be the single destination to access, organise, share and edit all your files, photos and documents stored online.
But Microsoft’s ambition for SkyDrive is much more than that. As we’ve seen details leaking last month, Microsoft will soon be launching Windows Live Devices – its replacement for Live Mesh – in Wave 4, and SkyDrive is to play an essential role on its launch. It is expected that SkyDrive will become the storage-end of Devices, playing a similar role to the “Live Desktop” in the current Live Mesh. The next version of Windows Live Sync will also become “meshified”, so besides the original PC-to-PC synchronisation capability, Sync will also sync your files to the cloud – and you’ve guessed it, it’ll be onto SkyDrive. On this front, Microsoft is really positioning SkyDrive to become your online hard drive and an essential piece of the “Software+Services” model.
By understanding how Microsoft positions SkyDrive for the future, it’s not hard to imagine the possibilities Microsoft can achieve with Windows Live. Many existing Windows Live services can be consolidated and be built on top of SkyDrive, and we know that the first of them all could well be Windows Live FrameIt. Paul Thurrott also slipped out a few words regarding (another) possible Windows Live-oriented video service in his review of Windows Live Movie Maker:
One thing that’s missing, of course, is a way to post your video creations on a Microsoft service. Since Microsoft killed the Soapbox service, there’s been a void, and while the company has nothing to announce at this time, suffice to say they will be adding Windows Live-oriented publishing capability in the future.
While Microsoft already have Video Messages, that service seem to be underexposed and didn’t integrate well with other Windows Live services. Additionally, Movie Maker seems to be the only Windows Live “software” that’s missing the “services” component under the “Software+Services” model. Thus integrating Video Messages into SkyDrive seems to make strong logical sense for Microsoft. Please bear in mind though that this is purely speculation, but we’re certainly watching Microsoft to see if this comes to fruition.
Of course, with all these files to be stored on SkyDrive, the current 25GB of storage space certainly won’t be enough. It’ll be interesting what Microsoft will do regarding this, as one of SkyDrive’s competing service ADrive currently offers 50GB for each account, will Microsoft increase its storage size for SkyDrive? We at LiveSide will of course keep you posted with any updates relating to SkyDrive and the rest of Windows Live, so stay tuned!