Microsoft

OneDrive and Office Online: New names, even better cloud products

Microsoft's cloud services have gone through some rebranding and feature changes. Scott Lowe takes a look at the new OneDrive and Office Online.

 

OneDrive and Office Online
 

The past couple of weeks have revealed some new branding and a few feature changes with two of Microsoft’s cloud-focused products.

SkyDrive is now OneDrive

Thanks to a small trademark issue, Microsoft made the decision a while back to rebrand its SkyDrive cloud storage offering as OneDrive. Microsoft has indicated that the name change better reflects the company’s desire to allow their customers to store their important files in “one” place -- hence OneDrive.

However, along with the name change comes a few new features and changes to the previous service offering. Here are some of the new features that you'll see with OneDrive:

  • 7 GB free. Users new to OneDrive get 7 GB of cloud-based storage just for signing up. To get more, customers simply need to refer friends to the service. Each referred customer results in a 500 MB storage bonus for the referrer, and each customer can refer up to 10 friends -- that's up to 5 GB of additional storage at no charge. For those who choose to use the new photo upload feature (detailed below), another 3 GB is granted. So, at no charge, users can get up to 15 GB of free cloud-based storage from OneDrive. Of course, there are also a number of paid options for users who need 25 GB, 50 GB, or even more storage.  For those who opt into an Office 365 subscription, the OneDrive space allocation is a whopping 100 GB.
  • Android photo upload. This feature allows users to automatically upload photos from an Android device to OneDrive. This is also available for iOS and Windows Phone devices.
  • Cross platform and application. Have an Xbox? You’ve got OneDrive. Have a Windows 8 PC? You have OneDrive. Have a Windows Phone? You have OneDrive. Microsoft has made OneDrive available across Windows, Windows Phone, Office, Xbox, iPhone, iPad, Android phones/tablets, Windows devices, and Macs. On newer systems and in newer versions of Office, OneDrive is the default storage location. This can be good or bad; it’s good in that your files are always stored in the centrally-accessible cloud environment, but bad in that you need an Internet connection to access those files unless you also synchronize them locally.

Of course, OneDrive is but one service among many providing similar features. Its biggest advantage is its complete integration with Windows and Office, plus its compatible with other platforms.

Office Web Apps is now Office Online

Along with the newly rebranded OneDrive comes a rebranded set of Office applications. Formerly known as Office Web Apps, these tools are now called Office Online. With Office Online, you'll find web-based versions of Office apps, each providing a subset of features from the main Office suite. In Figure A, you can see the entrance page for Office Online.  

Figure A

 

Figure A
 

Office Online entrance page.

Figure B gives you a look at the newly rebranded Word Online.

Figure B

 

Figure B
 

Word Online.

I’ve seen the Office Online apps (formerly Office Web Apps) derided as substandard tools. However, in my experience, I’ve found them to be very good and quite capable of handling typical needs. Of course, if you need advanced features, you’ll need to use a full, local product suite.

The Office Online apps are available via both OneDrive.com and Outlook.com. The online product suite includes the following apps:

  • Word Online
  • Excel Online
  • OneNote Online
  • PowerPoint Online

The previous Office Web Apps were sometimes kind of hard to find, but Office Online apps are front and center. And, not to be outdone by Google, Microsoft also added real-time collaboration in Office Web Apps last November, so the new apps are more than suitable, even when deep collaboration is a must.

When using one of the Office Online apps, users can quickly access any of the other apps by clicking the down arrow to the right of the app name and opening the app bar (Figure C).

Figure C

 

Figure C
 

Office Online application bar.

Summary

While no radical changes have been made to these services, their evolution has been interesting to watch. Microsoft’s various cloud plays have been confusing over the years, so it’s nice to see the company finally consolidating their products in a way that begins to make more sense to the user.

What do you think about Microsoft's rebranding efforts? Do you use OneDrive and Office Online in your organization? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

 

 

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

9 comments
danbromberg
danbromberg

Is there any way I can specify the direction that SkyDrive syncs files? I only want it to copy files from my PC Skydrive folder to Skydrive's cloud and NOT copy from Skydrive's cloud to my PC Skydrive folder; i.e., I don't want to be in true sync since I want to store some large files in the cloud and not on my HDD.


hirussellsmith
hirussellsmith

SkyDrive should be updated with more storage space. In case of Google Drive, users are free to use 15 GB space on cloud.

info
info

What I (and many professional colleagues) want is STABILITY instead of all this stuffing around, new useless features, losing old useful features, etc. Windows 8 and Office 2013/365 have ruined productivity for many people who upgraded assuming the new versions could only be 'better'.

Gisabun
Gisabun

OK. How long before Microsoft changes these names? Better name would of been "One Office"

DAS01
DAS01

Aside from the Android photo upload and easier access to the online apps I do not see much new associated with the change to OneDrive.  The 7 GB basic allowance certainly is not, and in the report it says that realtime online collaboration was introduced last November, relatively long before the rebranding.

I welcome the changes but am just saying that there is little specifically associated with the OneDrive name change.  Plus I suspect the changes that did coincide with the name change would have happened anyway.


It would be nice if Excel Online were not so basic but, I suppose, if were not, sales of Office 365 would be hit.  On the other hand, avid Google Sheets users still do not have a very compelling reason to switch to Excel Online...

george.gordon
george.gordon

The only issue I have with Office Online is figuring out what it doesn't do!!


In particular, I need to know which features of Excel are available. If anyone knows where Microsoft provides a complete definition of what you can/cannot do, please let me know. This appears to be a work-in-progress, so Microsoft should also be providing frequent updates on what works.


After much Googling, I determined that drop-downs work and tick-boxes do not work - I think drop-downs were a fairly recent addition.

BTRDAYZ
BTRDAYZ

I love it. Tried it on my iPad. Looks good, works well. No, Microsoft needs a low-end cloud OS, like Google's ChromeOS. Something fully managed/updated by Microsoft, and safe from malware. Something with IE built-in, Flash, Java, PDF Viewer and Remote Desktop client built in.

Gisabun
Gisabun

@BTRDAYZ Yikes! You want Java? ChromeOS is useless without the Internet.

brika
brika

@BTRDAYZ Sounds like you are describing Windows 8.1 RT. It works fantastic on my Surface 2.

Editor's Picks