Microsoft Limits SkyDrive, Kills Potential Innovative Uses

Microsoft Limits SkyDrive, Kills Potential Innovative Uses

By | July 26th, 2012
No Comments on Microsoft Limits SkyDrive, Kills Potential Innovative Uses

Microsoft is intent on preventing limitations on the SkyDrive API kill

innovative uses of the service that third parties could come up with.


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Microsoft’s SkyDrive is a perfectly fine cloud storage solution that comes with a decent amount of storage (7 GB) for free. SkyDrive is also closely integrated with Office 2010, so you can save, or open documents as if they were locally stored. The integration in the upcoming Office 2013 version will be even deeper. Windows 8 too will come with deep integration with SkyDrive, allowing it to be used as a standard storage location. What’s more, it even has an API that will allow third parties to develop apps that use the service.Sounds perfect doesn’t it?

Unfortunately Microsoft is intent on preventing any innovative uses of this service by limiting the API to supporting only “apps that enable document and photo sharing scenarios,” which they claim is “the express purpose of the service.” This immediately kills hundreds of innovative uses of the service that third parties could come up with.

The issue came to light when a developer found that it was not possible to upload a zip file using the API. The intent was to archive and backup data relevant to the application. The developer was pointed to the SkyDrive app development guidelines that mention in no uncertain terms that only Documents, Photos, Videos and Audio file types are permitted on SkyDrive. Of course users can upload whatever they want via the web interface or the desktop client, these restrictions are only for developers.

The guidelines mention that “Apps that automatically upload to SkyDrive any file added to a specific location on a user’s devices” and “Apps that automatically back up files or folders to SkyDrive” no not conform to the guidelines. These are some pretty good uses of a cloud storage service. It also mentions that “if your apps store file formats that are understood only by those apps, those file formats don’t belong on SkyDrive.”

This at a time when Google Drive and Dropbox, competitors to SkyDrive are giving developers much more flexibility. Google Drive allows web developers to build on its cloud storage system, and encourages them to use it for storing their files. There are numerous DropBox apps that allow you to use it for sending large attachments; O’Reilly Media even allows you to link your account on their website to Dropbox, so any purchased books are automatically synced.

There are some rather interesting and innovative ways in which SkyDrive could be used in third party apps. It’s sad that Microsoft wants none of that.

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Kshitij Sobti
Inserted into Kshitij's motivation banks is a particularly strong desire for justice. It's sad then, that he wastes his skills gaming, watching TV, and for the mundane task of writing prose. He tweets