An in-depth look at Windows 8’s SkyDrive app

SkyDrive app - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

I took a break from my series of in-depth looks at Windows 8 apps in order to cover the big Surface event and the Windows Phone Summit last week. But now that those are behind us, it’s time to turn our attention toward the next Windows 8 app on my list: SkyDrive.

When you start up the SkyDrive app, you’re presented with a series of tiles representing the folders you have on Microsoft’s cloud storage service. The double-wide tiles on the left represent folders, while the smaller ones on the left are actual files. You can, of course, switch from thumbnail view to details view on the app bar, which surfaces much more data at a glance. In fact, I think I prefer the details view myself, since it makes it easy to see what’s been shared, how many files are in a particular folder, etc.

The other app bar options, feedback (a temporary feature), refresh, add, and select all are fairly self-explanatory as well. Add, of course, launches the file picker. The upload process is very smooth, and selecting a file gives you options to clear the current selection, save a local copy, or manage (which only has one option: delete). Multi-select works well too, and it functions just like the rest of the Metro-style apps. Clicking on the name at the top of the app will let you swap between your personal SkyDrive, recent documents, and items shared with you.

I was pleased to discover that SkyDrive is intelligent enough to open OneNote notebooks using the Office application installed on your local machine, rather than simply launching the web browser. On the other hand, the photo viewer is a bit lacking. There’s no way to switch between images in full screen mode, so you’ll have to back out and open each file one by one. There also seem to be a few visual glitches with PNG images, as they sometimes bled outside of the small preview box.

SkyDrive doesn’t support Windows 8’s search charm, which is unfortunate, but it does include full support for sharing read-only links to files and managing – well, seeing – your current storage allotment in the settings. The app’s highlight, however, is its ability to integrate into Windows 8’s file picker. As a result, it’s trivial to open up or save files to SkyDrive from any app that utilizes the file picker. Note that if you attempt to close SkyDrive while using it to pick a file in another app, Windows 8 will warn you that doing so could cause you to lose whatever you’d selected.

The SkyDrive app is somewhat basic, but it’s already extremely useful. It would be handy if you could move files around inside of the app, rename things, etc., but the current Release Preview version is a great start.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/ Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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