FEBRUARY 3, 2015
Microsoft has a problem when it comes to sticking with product names. With the exception of Windows and Office, it seems to re-brand everything it offers every few years. Sometimes it’s arbitrary (at least to customers). Sometimes it’s because of legalities.
Take FolderShare, for instance, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2005 and promptly renamed Windows Live FolderShare—because everything was called “Live” back then. In the years since, it has been Windows Live Mesh, Essentials, Live Folders, and SkyDrive.
SkyDrive is a great name, but it was taken. Sort of. Microsoft got sued in the U.K. by broadcaster BSkyB for using the word “Sky.” A court agreed that it infringed a trademark, and Microsoft had to rebrand again. In keeping with other products like OneNote and Xbox One, it went with OneDrive.
OneDrive really should be a bigger name than it is. But Microsoft isn’t as synonymous with cloud/sync as Dropbox or Google Drive. The latter has the excellent integration of Docs and Sheets for online editing, but OneDrive has something arguably better: full integration with Office Online (formerly Office Web Apps; see what I mean about renaming?). Office Online houses the online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Plus, OneDrive is integrated directly with Windows 8.1—no utility needed. All it takes to access OneDrive is a Microsoft account. The service will sync files between all your Windows and Mac computers, which you can access online via mobile apps and the Web.
OneDrive is a favorite of PCMag analysts. It also made a big splash announcingunlimited online storage for those with Office 365 Home ($99.99/year), Personal ($69.99/year), or University ($79.99 for four years). That’s not exactly free, but does include full access to install and use all the Microsoft Office products, so think of OneDrive as a bonus. Limitless cloud storage is coming for OneDrive for Business in 2015.
That unrestricted storage is up from 15GB, which is still available to non-Office 365 subscribers. The only other service that comes close is Google Drive’s unlimited storage for education users. Files stored with OneDrive can also now be as big as 10GB, up from 2GB. (Dropbox file size is unlimited.)
But…so what? Lots of storage, you install the software to sync your files (or just turn it on in Windows 8), so you set it and forget it, right? You shouldn’t. There’s a lot more to OneDrive than that. Check out our list of tips in the slideshow. You’ll get the scoop on exactly what you need to take full advantage of a service thatcould be named Windows Live SkyFolderShareMeshDrive… but thankfully, is not.