Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive is a comprehensive document creation, sharing and cloud storage service that is more than able to meet with most consumer and small-business needs. For a consumer unwilling to pay the hefty price tag attached to even the entry-level MS Office 2010 Home and Student edition, SkyDrive is not only a lower-cost alternative, it's a no-cost one, with very little sacrifice on functionality. For a small-business owner looking to avoid the overhead of desktop licensing costs, while retaining the worker productivity that word processor and spreadsheet software can offer, SkyDrive can save you thousands of dollars.
As part of Windows Live, SkyDrive itself serves as the storage point for Office Web Apps, an in-browser version of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Furthermore, SkyDrive also serves as a repository for your photos, which can be uploaded directly from within Windows Live Photo Gallery (part of Microsoft's free to download Live Essentials software bundle), or by simply using a file browser control. Secondarily, SkyDrive has the ability to integrate with other Live products, like Hotmail, as with file attachment and in-message document editing. Did I fail to mention this all comes with a whopping 25 GB of space, soon to become an unlimited amount of space for all Web Office Apps documents and photos, with SkyDrive's next release?
Microsoft is touting two commodities lately, Windows 8 and the cloud. Additionally, Microsoft is looking toward ways to scale Windows 8 directly into their cloud products, namely SkyDrive. Therefore, as an everyday consumer of these products, I've recently been able to share thousands of photos from my wedding and honeymoon over the summer with friends and family, in the matter of minutes, all while on my honeymoon in Italy. It's safe to say I look forward to having my family's documents grow with SkyDrive. On the other hand, as a business user/owner, I lament those 200+ dollars I spent on the bona fide version of Office that isn't that much more useful than Office Web Apps, prior to my recent love affair with Windows Live. I tend to recall this sentiment when I just end up synching my desktop Office files with my SkyDrive ones using Live Mesh. Oh well, I suppose I can call that 200+ dollars a sunk cost.
Ian is a manager of business intelligence/analytics for a small cap NYSE traded energy company. He also freelance writes about business and technology, as well as consults SMBs upon Internet marketing strategy.