Windows Live Folders becomes Live SkyDrive

Today, Windows Live Folders was renamed to Windows Live SkyDrive.   This service currently offers 500Mb of free online disk storage space.   When the service was first announced, it wasn’t open in the UK however it seems to have expanded as I am now able to use the service.

My initial thoughts are, do I really want all of my documents online?  I thought it would be cool to have them online, but in reality, i’m not sure I do want it.  The site mentions that your personal data is password protected with your Live ID and the site uses SSL.  Well, SSL is only a limited form of protection and doesn’t stop anything if there is a vulnerability in the site.  Also, I haven’t heard anything about how the files are actually stored on the disk?  I know some services use Blowfish encryption for an added layer of protection while others use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) which is the standard encryption algorithm of the US government.  So what encryption does SkyDrive use?  If I knew for a fact they where using encryption which protected the files at all points along the journey then I would be happier.  However, if my Live ID was hacked then this wouldn’t be any good away….

Moving onto the service, everyone has their own reasons for wanting to store there files online, for me the main reason is an off-site backup solution.  I’m sure this service will be linked into Windows Home Server so files could be automatically sync’ed.

As for the user experience, there are three levels of sharing – Personal, Shared, Public. As mentioned, Personal are protected by your Windows LIve ID,  shared can be accessed by defined users using their live ID and you decide what they can and cannot do (read/write) and the public folders can be access by anyone and they can only read.

Uploading files is initially limited to 5 files at a time, which is a very slow process.  However, you can download a ActiveX addin which allows you to drag and drop any files onto the upload surface embedded in the webpage which greatly improves the experience.

The UI is easy to navigate.  At the moment, editing files is very limited. You have to download the file locally, make the change, then re-upload the file.  At the moment there is no way to integrate the service into Windows, for example using WebDav and as a Network Location.  I’m guessing security together with usability are the key here.

I’m sure I will use the service in the end as it will solve a number of problems and will be really interesting when the API is released. For the moment, I think I will see how others get on.

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