Microsoft revamps Skydrive, reminding us that this cloud thing was supposed to make finding our data easier, not harder.
Cloud storage was supposed to be about centralising your data in one place, allowing you access from the myriad devices that you want to access it from. But over time it seems that this ideal is becoming more and more fragmented, as more and more products come with their own version of cloud storage built in.
This is exemplified by Windows 8 and its deep ties to Microsoft’s Skydrive service. While it has been around for some time, both Windows 8 and Office 2013 are designed to integrate tightly with the service. To facilitate this Microsoft has announced that it is revamping Skydrive, with a new Metro Windows 8 style interface as well as applications for PCs, Macs and Android.
Given the aforementioned expectations that a cloud service is a place to access your data from multiple devices, this is a good thing. But it emphasises just how many different iterations of the same thing that we have to deal with on our devices.
In our office we use Dropbox extensively. It’s a great way to not only store personal data, but to share between members of the team. We also use Google docs a lot, which now means we are using Google Drive. Apple afficiandos in the office add iCloud to this list. Now simply because we have some test systems running Windows 8 we’ll be incorporating Skydrive into our cloud portfolio.
That is three storage services at our disposal, all used in different ways but all effectively doing the same thing. We aren’t even including the other, more transparent, cloud storage in our lives, things like Steamcloud, Evernote and Flickr.
Each time we find ourselves dragged into another services there is another set of apps to worry about, another password to remember, and a few more seconds of confusion as we try and work out which file is where.
It now seems that the only way to get users for a cloud service is to tie it intrinsically into an important part of our technological lives. Why can’t we use Dropbox as our go-to solution for storing everything, rather than needing to shove docs written in Google Apps onto Google Drive, and those done in Office onto Skydrive?
It is a situation that will undoubtedly continue to get worse and worse as time passes. Rather than centralise our digital existence, it seems that we are destined for a future in which it is smeared all over the internet, with little pockets of data rather than a single repository the reality of the cloud.