SkyDrive updated to Wave 5 with full UI revamp, new features and performance improvements

By damaster | Posted June 20, 2011 59 comments

SkyDriveLiveSide exclusively showed off the first screenshots of the new SkyDrive back in May. A few weeks ago, we also saw further screenshot leaks giving us a glimpse of what’s to come. Today, Microsoft officially unveiled a major update to their Windows Live SkyDrive cloud storage service, complete with a new UI, new features, significant performance improvements, as well as a bigger file size limit – doubling from 50MB to 100MB per file.

LiveSide recently had a chance to talk with Anand Babu, Senior Product Manager on the SkyDrive team, about the new SkyDrive. Built using HTML5 (rather than Silverlight), the new SkyDrive now takes advantage of CSS3 Transitions and H.264 video to bring the experience “live” to you. It also brings together Windows Live Photos (http://photos.live.com) and Office (http://office.live.com) all into one place, providing a single interface for all files stored on SkyDrive.

According to the official blog post, here’s a list of the new features and improvements in the new SkyDrive:

It’s Faster.

  • Support for H.264 videosCaching and hardware acceleration – Common tasks and scenarios, like clicking on folders and navigating photo albums will go from 6-9 seconds down to 100-300 milliseconds. We took advantage of hardware accelerated graphics to make it fast to skip through slideshows.
  • Support for HTML5 video tag – Playback H.264 videos (with support for files of up to 100MB).
  • Pin SkyDrive to your taskbar – With Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7, you can pin SkyDrive to your taskbar for even faster access to the files you want. Create Word, Excel or PowerPoint docs stored in the cloud in just one click.

Is Easier to Navigate.

  • All your content in one place including SkyDrive groupsAll your content in one place including SkyDrive groups - We brought together all your photos, docs, files shared with you and files in SkyDrive groups into one view. We took elements of the common file system you’re used to on Windows and Mac OS so navigating SkyDrive is more intuitive.
  • Quick views – We incorporated navigational elements and a layout that is consistent with Hotmail (Quick Views for recent docs & files shared with you).
  • Information pane - We removed ads to create room for a pane of information about your files – so you can take actions such as opening a doc in Word or Excel on the desktop directly from SkyDrive.

Photos are More Beautiful.

  • Mosaic layoutMosaic layout – We got the chrome out of the way to let your photos fill the browser. We create thumbnails that reflect the original aspect ratio of your picture. Portraits, landscapes and panoramas can retain their personality even in thumbnail mode.
  • Clean arrangement – Regardless of what size screen you have, how big your browser window is, or how many photos you have, SkyDrive always arranges your photos into a perfect, clean square. In achieving this, we use CSS3 Transitions to add life to your photo album by animating thumbnail rearranging when you resize the browser window.
  • Living, breathing presentation – When viewing your albums, SkyDrive pulses through your thumbnails, letting you experience the contents of an album even before diving in.
  • Infinite scrolling – We no longer have pages in the photo viewing experience; you just scroll the page and quickly see your photos fill in. It looks and feels like a native application.

To see how the “Live Tiles”-like photo album thumbnails “pulses”, or how the CSS3 transitions actually looks like, check out the video below:

One interesting side note – Anand Babu told us that a decision was made to take back the real estate from the former right side skyscraper ad, they simply needed more room.  So instead of an ad, SkyDrive visitors will see a contextual menu, and can click on the blue “i” information icon for more granular control of SkyDrive folders and files (the icons aren’t appearing in the screenshots we were provided, but they were shown to us, we’ll be looking for them in the live version!)

Unfortunately, while the single file size limit has been increased to 100MB in this update, the total SkyDrive storage is still 25GB. Also, the “SkyDrive synced storage” for Windows Live Mesh is still currently separate from the main SkyDrive storage (we’re checking on this, and will update the post as soon as we hear back edit: we’ve confirmed that Windows Live Mesh storage remains the same with this SkyDrive update). There’s also no news yet about purchasable expandable storage, integration with Mesh, seamless support for other medias (like music), APIs support, or how SkyDrive will integrate with Windows 8, however we understand that these features may come as part of future updates. Do take in mind that this new SkyDrive update is the first of more updates to come, as Microsoft gradually moves away from large “wave” releases for its Windows Live web services, moving towards smaller incremental releases such as the recent updates we’ve seen with Hotmail.

As we understood previously, Microsoft aims to move SkyDrive as a back-end service (for Windows Phone, Office Web Apps…etc.) towards more of a front-end application, forming one of the three major “communication properties” of Windows Live along with Hotmail and Messenger. There’s definitely more coming for the future of Windows Live, so stay tuned at LiveSide as we bring you the latest.

The new SkyDrive is now (or should be very soon) available to all users at http://skydrive.live.com.  Babu told us that we wouldn’t be seeing a rollout like we’ve seen with Hotmail, instead it should be a matter of “flipping a switch”, so to speak. (note: indeed we just heard word that it may be sometime later this afternoon before the switch is made.  We’ll update when we hear more)

You can also check out the official SkyDrive change log for this update here.

Posted June 20th, 2011 at 2:00 pm
  • James

    THIS IS AWESOMEEEEEEEE!!!!! :)    Wish the total storage increased though AT LEAST to 50GB.

    • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

      What?! 25GB is plenty! With iCloud you only get 5GB!!

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6G3ZZJCHOLYP3S5CRCIHQ7WDSE MVIM

      25GB is enough for free storage. I just wish it was like the synced storage part where you can place files of any size. I would pay $10-20/year to have a combined 25GB synced storage, as long as there was no max on file sizes.

  • James

    THIS IS AWESOMEEEEEEEE!!!!! :)    Wish the total storage increased though AT LEAST to 50GB.

    • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

      What?! 25GB is plenty! With iCloud you only get 5GB!!

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6G3ZZJCHOLYP3S5CRCIHQ7WDSE MVIM

      25GB is enough for free storage. I just wish it was like the synced storage part where you can place files of any size. I would pay $10-20/year to have a combined 25GB synced storage, as long as there was no max on file sizes.

  • Desi Raja

    SkyDrive is da isshhh!!!! :D

  • Game_Over_Malik

    SkyDrive is da isshhh!!!! :D

  • Hojsn

    can’t see it yet in germany

  • Hojsn

    can’t see it yet in germany

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001372048419 Jan Westhues

    BTW when trying to access the video it says “this video is private” (Dieses Video ist privat)!?

  • $14196660

    BTW when trying to access the video it says “this video is private” (Dieses Video ist privat)!?

  • Bosston

    I tried watching the video but it says this video is private.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Sorry, fixed the video :)

  • Bosston

    I tried watching the video but it says this video is private.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Sorry, fixed the video :)

  • Bosston

    Thanks!

  • Bosston

    Thanks!

  • The Black Mamba

    Welcome back Microsoft, More frequent update is certainly a good sign of what to come. This is a much better welcome. Now next stop is Skydrive with windows 7, oohh wait window 8 integration.

  • The Black Mamba

    Welcome back Microsoft, More frequent update is certainly a good sign of what to come. This is a much better welcome. Now next stop is Skydrive with windows 7, oohh wait window 8 integration.

  • Mario Albertico

    It’s almost scary how fast it is to move around folders and files…absolutely amazing! All we need now is a desktop app to fully compete against all the other players :)

  • Mario Albertico

    It’s almost scary how fast it is to move around folders and files…absolutely amazing! All we need now is a desktop app to fully compete against all the other players :)

  • http://twitter.com/surilamin surilamin

    This is great, as Paris Hilton would say, Love it! :p

  • http://twitter.com/surilamin surilamin

    This is great, as Paris Hilton would say, Love it! :p

  • http://cid-280a1538334a1cb9.profile.live.com/ Seika

    Can’t find drag and drop, or even the option to move folders.
    Is it removed ?

    • Mario Albertico

      Seems like any folder with subfolders can’t be moved right now, but with folders without subfolders, click to highlight the folder (i.e. don’t click the name link of the folder) and then under the “Information” section from the sidebar, there is a part “Path,” and there you will find “Move,” “Copy.” It’s the only thing I have found in terms of moving and copying folders around…

      • http://cid-280a1538334a1cb9.profile.live.com/ Seika

        Thanks. Missed that one. :)

        • Mario Albertico

          Yep! No worries…it took me several minutes to figure it out myself O.o

        • Mario Albertico

          Yep! No worries…it took me several minutes to figure it out myself O.o

    • Damaster – LiveSide.net

      Here’s what Omar Shahine said on the Windows team blog comments:
      “We don’t support moving from the top level into a folder, nor from a folder into the top level. However, other moves should be supported. Also, we realize this limitation is not a good one, so we’re working to improve this.”

      Mario’s suggestion above should allow you to move/copy files for now, with quite a bit of limitation. Microsoft should definitely expose move/copy functions, and perhaps also allow selection of multiple files/folders. Drag and drop would be good too, similar to Hotmail.

      • Mario Albertico

        Very glad that he specifically considered it a “limitation.”

      • Mario Albertico

        Very glad that he specifically considered it a “limitation.”

  • http://cid-280a1538334a1cb9.profile.live.com/ Seika

    Can’t find drag and drop, or even the option to move folders.
    Is it removed ?

    • Mario Albertico

      Seems like any folder with subfolders can’t be moved right now, but with folders without subfolders, click to highlight the folder (i.e. don’t click the name link of the folder) and then under the “Information” section from the sidebar, there is a part “Path,” and there you will find “Move,” “Copy.” It’s the only thing I have found in terms of moving and copying folders around…

      • http://cid-280a1538334a1cb9.profile.live.com/ Seika

        Thanks. Missed that one. :)

        • Mario Albertico

          Yep! No worries…it took me several minutes to figure it out myself O.o

    • damaster

      Here’s what Omar Shahine said on the Windows team blog comments:
      “We don’t support moving from the top level into a folder, nor from a folder into the top level. However, other moves should be supported. Also, we realize this limitation is not a good one, so we’re working to improve this.”

      Mario’s suggestion above should allow you to move/copy files for now, with quite a bit of limitation. Microsoft should definitely expose move/copy functions, and perhaps also allow selection of multiple files/folders. Drag and drop would be good too, similar to Hotmail.

      • Mario Albertico

        Very glad that he specifically considered it a “limitation.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/bessard Michaël Bessard

    While this is a much needed and welcomed update, the “add files” stuff is still in Silverlight… Next update I guess.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      If you embed photos in a blog post, it still links back to the Silverlight viewer, as well.  Some works still to do :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bessard Michaël Bessard

    While this is a much needed and welcomed update, the “add files” stuff is still in Silverlight… Next update I guess.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      If you embed photos in a blog post, it still links back to the Silverlight viewer, as well.  Some works still to do :)

  • Allan

    Its definitely an improvement! Would like to see some further improvements, though, before it becomes useful for me:
    – Mesh integrated, this is so obvious but cannot be said enough times
    – Sharing with people with or without a live id must be improved, right now it’s so clumsy you get the impression they don’t want you to, but this is an essential feature of it being cloud based, for instance, you can’t get a shareable link from within the word web app, this must be done from the skydrive side. Make this competitive with dropbox!
    – An API to allow for third party apps, especially on iOS and Android. Mobile is the killer platform these days, and those are the big ones, so be there to stay relevant (until wp takes over of course) :)
    – A separate “hub” for photos. It doesn’t seem natural to have to go to “Skydrive”->”Photos of me”

    A final wish, which is a nice-to-have, is a nicer, cleaner skin. Would love to see some metrofication going on.

    I’m hoping that wave 5 will finally make windows live relevant again, wave 4 was a bit disappointing to me. I’m really only using wl mesh now, but in combination with dropbox for multiplatform support and sharing with others. None of the people I share folders with are on wl mesh. Having the browser based access to skydrive in combination with wl mesh would be a great way for MS to really have something to point to when conpared with iCloud, so let’s hope they get it right!

  • allanwith

    Its definitely an improvement! Would like to see some further improvements, though, before it becomes useful for me:
    – Mesh integrated, this is so obvious but cannot be said enough times
    – Sharing with people with or without a live id must be improved, right now it’s so clumsy you get the impression they don’t want you to, but this is an essential feature of it being cloud based, for instance, you can’t get a shareable link from within the word web app, this must be done from the skydrive side. Make this competitive with dropbox!
    – An API to allow for third party apps, especially on iOS and Android. Mobile is the killer platform these days, and those are the big ones, so be there to stay relevant (until wp takes over of course) :)
    – A separate “hub” for photos. It doesn’t seem natural to have to go to “Skydrive”->”Photos of me”

    A final wish, which is a nice-to-have, is a nicer, cleaner skin. Would love to see some metrofication going on.

    I’m hoping that wave 5 will finally make windows live relevant again, wave 4 was a bit disappointing to me. I’m really only using wl mesh now, but in combination with dropbox for multiplatform support and sharing with others. None of the people I share folders with are on wl mesh. Having the browser based access to skydrive in combination with wl mesh would be a great way for MS to really have something to point to when conpared with iCloud, so let’s hope they get it right!

  • allanwith

    Its definitely an improvement! Would like to see some further improvements, though, before it becomes useful for me:
    – Mesh integrated, this is so obvious but cannot be said enough times
    – Sharing with people with or without a live id must be improved, right now it’s so clumsy you get the impression they don’t want you to, but this is an essential feature of it being cloud based, for instance, you can’t get a shareable link from within the word web app, this must be done from the skydrive side. Make this competitive with dropbox!
    – An API to allow for third party apps, especially on iOS and Android. Mobile is the killer platform these days, and those are the big ones, so be there to stay relevant (until wp takes over of course) :)
    – A separate “hub” for photos. It doesn’t seem natural to have to go to “Skydrive”->”Photos of me”

    A final wish, which is a nice-to-have, is a nicer, cleaner skin. Would love to see some metrofication going on.

    I’m hoping that wave 5 will finally make windows live relevant again, wave 4 was a bit disappointing to me. I’m really only using wl mesh now, but in combination with dropbox for multiplatform support and sharing with others. None of the people I share folders with are on wl mesh. Having the browser based access to skydrive in combination with wl mesh would be a great way for MS to really have something to point to when conpared with iCloud, so let’s hope they get it right!

  • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

    Great! I hope this is the start of a move away from ‘Waves’ (I think the latest Hotmail update has proved that, though). But it needs Mesh integration!

  • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

    Great! I hope this is the start of a move away from ‘Waves’ (I think the latest Hotmail update has proved that, though). But it needs Mesh integration!

  • Vj

    Is there a way to delete multiple photos?

  • Vj

    Is there a way to delete multiple photos?

  • http://www.facebook.com/emiliano.magliocca Emiliano Magliocca

    almost perfect…we need a full integration with office2010 (i can save in skydrive but not easyly open from) and live mesh …like dropbox

    …and with mango will be perfect in windows phone too…i hope in favorites sync too

  • Emiliano Magliocca

    almost perfect…we need a full integration with office2010 (i can save in skydrive but not easyly open from) and live mesh …like dropbox

    …and with mango will be perfect in windows phone too…i hope in favorites sync too

  • http://twitter.com/rajeshaz09 iRajesh

    how to rotate photo?

    • Damaster – LiveSide.net

      also another question – how do I check my current SkyDrive storage usage?

  • http://twitter.com/rajeshaz09 iRajesh

    how to rotate photo?

    • damaster

      also another question – how do I check my current SkyDrive storage usage?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6G3ZZJCHOLYP3S5CRCIHQ7WDSE MVIM

    Has anyone else noticed that they made the mobile/Windows Phone SkyDrive browsing much faster. It almost feels like HTML5.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6G3ZZJCHOLYP3S5CRCIHQ7WDSE MVIM

    Has anyone else noticed that they made the mobile/Windows Phone SkyDrive browsing much faster. It almost feels like HTML5.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reportered Ed West

    Good improvement….but would also like
    – Ability to share a photo on Facebook
    – Show GEOTAG and integrate with Bing Maps

    ..aren’t these default ‘must haves’ these days?

  • Ed West

    Good improvement….but would also like
    – Ability to share a photo on Facebook
    – Show GEOTAG and integrate with Bing Maps

    ..aren’t these default ‘must haves’ these days?