Explaining SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro (sorta)

skydrive-logoSince yesterday’s Office 2013 announcement, and the subsequent “discovery” of SkyDrive Pro, we’ve been piecing together bits of information and are coming to an understanding what SkyDrive Pro is and isn’t, and what it’s going to mean for users.

First, let’s clear up some misconceptions we both had and probably passed along as we muddled through:  Although our newfound SharePoint Expert said in a blog post that SkyDrive Pro replaces SharePoint Workspace, this doesn’t appear to be the case, according to information obtained by Mary Jo Foley:

A Microsoft spokesperson said that Microsoft does not consider SkyDrive Pro to be a replacement for SharePoint Workspace. The spokesperson also said users could opt to have two SkyDrives: One for work (SkyDrive Pro) and one personal (SkyDrive).  It’s not clear to me whether the two would simply sync, or if users could opt to merge these into one. Hopefully things will become clearer as testers start weighing in about the Customer Preview of SharePoint 2013 and the new Office 365 bundles.

Another bit of misinformation was cleared up in an MVP discussion list, which we asked and were granted permission to post here, regarding that extra 20gb of storage.  That will belong to SkyDrive, and not SkyDrive Pro:

SkyDrive is available free to individuals and also as part of Office 365 Home Premium (including 20GB of extra storage)

That source then provided a definition of SkyDrive Pro:

SkyDrive Pro is a feature in the next release of SharePoint that allows organizations to provision and manage personal cloud storage for their employees. It will be available as a service with Office 365 Small Business, Office 365 Enterprise and on-premises with the new version of SharePoint.

Note that Office 365 Home Premium, the product that installed the grayed out context menu item in the first place, isn’t listed, nor will it come with SharePoint.  It doesn’t appear to us that Office 365 Home Premium will have anything to do with SkyDrive Pro.  Of course that begs the question of why the menu item, we know.

And then in a blog post on the SharePoint blog, we get a bit more information in this explanation of SkyDrive Pro:

SkyDrive Pro makes it easy it to work with your documents in SharePoint – save, sync, share and collaborate are all drop-dead simple. The name conveys the simplicity and increased consistency with our SkyDrive consumer cloud service while reinforcing the “Pro” features of SharePoint like social networking, collaboration, search, metadata, workflow and compliance. Click “Sync” on a SharePoint library and you will get the documents offline in the Windows Explorer, Office applications and more. SkyDrive Pro is part of both the SharePoint service in Office 365 and server.

So it may be a bit of marketing-speak to call them both SkyDrive, perhaps, as SkyDrive Pro not only offers features unavailable to SkyDrive users, but it actually allows for enterprises to host their own “SkyDrives”, if we’re reading this right.

And of course it doesn’t help that the consumer version of SkyDrive has a paid complement, but paying for an extra 20 or 100 gb of storage doesn’t buy you “SkyDrive Pro”, it just buys you extra storage for SkyDrive.

To be honest, although we’re only slightly less confused than we were this morning, we don’t have a problem with “SkyDrive Pro”.  Of course, we haven’t seen it yet, but we’re hoping that they both have a  similar look and feel, and that both versions will continue to become easier to use, and more useful.   Most consumers won’t even touch SkyDrive Pro, and if they do they’ll have legitimate reasons for keeping their workflow separate from their personal SkyDrives.  Office 365 Home Premium users will get 20 extra gigs of regular old SkyDrive space, and not a separate SkyDrive Pro account, and that’s good to clarify.  And hey, it wouldn’t be Microsoft if it wasn’t confusing, would it?