A couple of days after Apple announced its iCloud storage service, Microsoft wants to remind us that its SkyDrive cloud service has already been around for a while and will have more iCloud-like features in the near future.
In a blog post, Microsoft’s Group Program Manager Mike Torres described SkyDrive’s new features in detail. SkyDrive will give Windows Phone users the ability to upload photos, videos and documents to the cloud and then access them with any device. The new features will be released with the Mango version of Windows Phone 7 operating system this fall.
SkyDrive has already offered storage space for pictures and Office documents in the cloud. With Mango, users can share the photos over email, text message or Messenger/Facebook. The storage and sharing features will also expand to videos. The software will upload the videos in the background while the user is doing other things.
In addition, Windows Phone 7 and SkyDrive will be better integrated. The folders in the cloud will also appear as folders on the phone. There will be a quick search feature to the cloud, and you can see what documents other users have shared with you.
Another important feature is the ability to access email, calendar and contacts via Microsoft’s Hotmail service.
It seems SkyDrive’s features will be quite close to iCloud’s. Apple’s service starts with mail, contacts, and calendar. Steve Jobs also talked about three other new apps coming to iCloud: Documents, Photo Stream, and iTunes in the Cloud.
The music seems to be the big differentiator between SkyDrive and iCloud. With SkyDrive, you can’t upload your music files to the cloud and then use them across all your devices. Microsoft has a streaming music service Zune Pass, but you are stuck with the music selection the service has.
The latest SkyDrive features and all the other updates coming with Mango show that Microsoft is really serious about developing Windows Phone 7, as it has to be if it wants to be a player in the mobile ecosystem.
Here’s a video showing how to use Office documents with SkyDrive: