Microsoft is current beta testing free data storage for end users as part of its new Windows Live hosted services. Assuming all goes well with the 5,000 beta testers currently trying it out, Windows users could well be receiving the invitation to sign up for this free service by this fall.

As reported by eWeek here:

Windows Live Folders, a hosted system for storage of personal files … [it] will give users 500MB of online storage at no charge. The maximum file size supported will be 50MB.

According to Adam Sohn, a Microsoft marketing director for online products, this was developed in response to customers wanting to unify their “stuffs” into a single location.

The service will give every user three types of root folders: personal, shared, and public. The personal folder is exactly what you think it is, whereas shared folders allow an end user to precisely specify who gets to see and change what.

A public folder, on the other hand, is wide open for modifications by anyone. The ramifications of some bloke uploading undesirable contents into one’s public folder remains to be seen.

Given the increasing momentum behind SaaS, it seems inevitable that online storage of personal files will gain mainstream acceptance soon. After all, most of us already use some form of hosted e-mail providers or hosted software — wikis and blogs come to mind.

Microsoft says online storage is what we want. What do you say?

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