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Office and SkyDrive for Windows


Editor’s note:
In one of our initial posts we discussed our efforts to
connect Office more naturally to the cloud. This week we’ll elaborate on our services approach in the next Office, starting with today’s post about Office and SkyDrive integration. Daniel Fiordalis, Program Manager, and Arnab Bose, Senior Program Manager Lead join Office Next to discuss this area in detail.

imageHi everyone! By now folks have also been able to see that we’ve changed the default save location in Office to SkyDrive. We’re excited to talk about the change, and why it offers the best experience for storing, sharing and collaborating Office documents.

 

Saving to the Cloud

Going in we recognized that changing the default save location to SkyDrive was going to be critical to get right because it affects one of the most basic operations of our products. Saving to the cloud offers anywhere access to content through the new Office. This allows our users to move from device to device without having to worry where their content (or Office app) resides. Saving to the cloud also enables collaboration scenarios like coauthoring which aren’t possible when a file is just saved on your local machine.

However, there are things we take for granted every time we save to our local device. Things like easily being able to access the files while offline, or being able to use Windows Desktop search to find a file by name or content within. In fact, over 90% of all Office files are opened from File Explorer today. We knew that if we wanted to change where people saved, local file browse and search would still need to work, and saving to the cloud needed to be just as easy to understand as local file management is today.

If we look at current cloud based solutions, the answer seems simple. First, create an app to sync your files to the device you’re working on, then open those files locally. At first glance, this simplistic model seems to work. The major problem though, is opening these local files leaves you with just that—a local file. This approach doesn’t allow multiple people or devices to work on the file simultaneously and often causes conflicts. Syncing apps attempt to resolve these conflicts by making a duplicate of your content.

imageWith the next version of Office, we’ve created a no-compromise solution to these problems. Your documents will be saved to the cloud so you can easily share and collaborate with others. The integration between Office and SkyDrive for Windows mans your documents will sync locally and be cloud connected. Browsing your files on SkyDrive will not be affected by network latency or service availability.

You may have seen that SkyDrive for Windows is included in consumer editions of the next version of Office. In fact, if you’ve downloaded the Home Premium preview, SkyDrive is already on your computer! To get the app up and running, all you have to do is save a document to your personal SkyDrive. Once you have saved a document to SkyDrive or opened a document from the web site, the SkyDrive for Windows applications will automatically start syncing your content.

A Familiar Experience

Saving to SkyDrive enables many new advantages, but it does not require people to think differently about how to save or find their documents. The experience is very similar (almost identical) to what you are already used to – SkyDrive is offered as a choice in the Office application when selecting a save location. Like other default locations in File Explorer, such as the Documents Library, the SkyDrive experience is accessible from other Windows applications and available offline.

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Taking your cloud with you

Once synchronization is complete and you are saving files to SkyDrive, you’ll have an up-to-date version of your content synced right to your local machine and available on SkyDrive! Whether you are using Office 365 Home Premium Preview, Office on Demand applications, or even other applications to edit documents, saving to SkyDrive will keep the local copy on your computer and the copy in the cloud synchronized for as long as you need it.

If you want to edit your documents from a different computer, just log in to the SkyDrive website with your Microsoft account. From here you can view and edit the up-to-date version of your documents via the Office Web Apps, the Office 365 Home Premium Preview or even Office 2010. If you save your changes back to SkyDrive, these changes will be synchronized back down to your computer(s) which are running the SkyDrive for Windows client application.

This is a major advantage of saving to your local hard drive because it gives you access to your documents wherever you sign into Office, and this approach is also a huge improvement over the cloud solutions that force you to stay online to do anything.

Managing local and cloud file synchronization

SkyDrive for Windows helps your Office files to stay current and cloud connected.

imageWhen you edit your documents in the next version of Office and save them on SkyDrive, they are stored in the SkyDrive folder on your device and in the cloud at the same time. File uploads to SkyDrive are enabled via a background process which works asynchronously. Therefore, if you are working on your document from a coffee shop with a weak WiFi signal, you will be able to continue making changes to the file while uploads are in progress. This ensures that the performance and latency associated with editing Office documents is not affected by the bandwidth, latency or even availability of your network connection. In addition, when you open a local SkyDrive file, Office recognizes the file is stored in SkyDrive and connects to the cloud immediately—which means you get the latest, up to date copy of the document and if it’s a shared document, you can instantly see who else is currently editing the file and where they are typing. Especially for Office applications that support co-authoring, this is a major advantage because you’ll be able to coauthor documents with both the Office Web Apps as well as Office 2010 client applications.

While offline, Office will be able to create, save and open your files from the local SkyDrive folder. You’ll see notifications within Office letting you know if you’re working offline. If needed, Office will alert you if there are changes to your file that are pending upload to the cloud. Your files are still being saved locally though, so you don’t need to worry about losing any data. In fact, you can exit your Office apps all together and whenever you get your connection back, Office will upload your changes to the cloud automatically!

Smart Sync

Using Office and SkyDrive to sync your files has great benefits for bandwidth utilization and battery life. For example, if you are working on a 50 MB PowerPoint presentation and decide to insert a new bullet point, Office will only upload that single bullet point. The same goes for downloading updates from the cloud. We call this partial file upload and partial file download and it’s enabled via the MS-FSSHTTP protocol.

SkyDrive will delegate all Office file types over to Office for syncing. This way all of your Office documents will benefit from partial file download and upload. You may notice the Upload Center balloon show up from time to time. The Upload center takes care of any uploads and downloads whenever there isn’t an Office app open. It has specialized UI to help do basic upload management tasks associated with Office files. The balloons show up to let you know if a file upload has gone pending due to lost connectivity or if it has failed and needs your attention.

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Wrapping up

Saving to the cloud has never been easier. You’ll get all the benefits of easy sharing and collaboration by having your work in SkyDrive without sacrificing offline access and the ability to search on all your devices. This means you can get to the content that matters most to you anytime and anywhere.

Thanks for reading this far, we’re really excited for you to try it out and let us know what you think.

 

Join the conversation

15 comments
  1. Here’s an issue I faced and I am sure as we move towards more mobile devices, others will too. I have 15GB of documents on my SkyDrive. I installed Windows 8 RP on a 40GB partition on my computer. As soon as I installed and started using new Office, the SkyDrive app used up 15GB in getting the whole SkyDrive content to my local machine. I don’t need the whole SkyDrive on, say for example, a Windows tablet which may only have 32GB of usable space.

    I really hope, at least as part of the Office installation, we are allowed to choose what gets sync-ed from SkyDrive to the local PC, instead of blindly doing the whole thing.

    • Thanks for the feedback about selective sync, you’re request has been noted!

  2. I would like to try this, I have SkyDrive on my Win 7 PCs and Office on my 30 GB partition, until he SkyDrive team adds the most asked for feature, selective sync, the SkyDrive apps is useless to test this. I do not want (nor can I) when I have 13 GB free and have 17 GB on SkyDrive. Also, more and more people have small SSD’s, with makes the current integration horrible.

    I would love to try the perfect harmony between Office 2013 and SkyDrive, but I NEED selective sync!

  3. edit: I have Office on my 30 GB Windows 8 partition.

    (please make it possible to edit comments)

  4. These features are great, but would you be able to please elaborate on SkyDrive securityencryption?

    Since saving to SkyDrive will become such a normal practice for the multitudes, my concern is around people’s data being safe.

    Ultimately, business will save to SharePoint or other encrypted locations, but for the micro business, or home user leveraging SkyDrive, they will still have lots of personal information, and sensitive data. With so much personal data to be saved to SkyDrive, my concern is that without adequate security, identity theft will rise.

    It would be good if you could provide more information around security and how people will protect their identity in using SkyDrive. If the only protection people have for all their data in SkyDrive is a complex password, that is a concern.

  5. Perhaps I am being dense about the "selective synch" issue that folks keep bringing up. Once I installed the SkyDrive App, it created a SkyDrive folder in Windows Explorer. I dragged the folders that I wanted to synch into that directory, and left those that I didn’t want to synch in "My Documents" on my local drive. Seems to work fine for me.

    The question I have is will the SkyDrive App synch folders or files that others have shared with me on their SkyDrives. If that works already, I’d love to hear more about how to do it.

    • Hi Tom – the SkyDrive for Windows application does not currently sync folders or files that others have shared with you on their SkyDrive. Your feedback is appreciated and your feature request has been noted!

    • Yes Tom it ll Sync with other SkyDrivers.

  6. I don’t think you guys understand that nobody else has more secure infrastructures than MS. These are features they alreay deliver via Office365 and federal fovernment requirements including the various security certifications. I too will love more details on SkyDrive security but I first just want to put all fears to rest as to anyone questioning the ability for MS to secure SkyDrive as this is nothing new to them. While Google has not been able to allow any third-party audits talkless of produce security certifications for any of their "Google Apps" (which explains why they always get hacked) including Docs that people use, you can find several security certifcations for MS datacenters here;

    http://www.microsoft.com/online/legal/v2/en-us/MOS_PTC_Security_Audit.htm

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/independently-verified.aspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/trust-center.aspx

    http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/support/trust-center/compliance/

  7. This is my concern. SkyDrive is going to be so integrated into Office, and with the proliferation of BYOD, it is easily foreseeable that SkyDrive will be a major data leakage problem in organisations…

    Through many years, I have used Live SyncMesh and now SkyDrive, so I get it and what it doesdoesn’t do. My concern is that since it will be there by default…how do we secure it, and organisations.

    I am guessing GPO’s will be key, but it would be good to get a good understanding from Microsoft on these points.

    Even aside of the Enterprise, SkyDrive will be a strategy for the smaller business and home professional (not to mention the average home user). If all their data, credit card info and other banking info is going to be sitting in SkyDrive, and un-encrypted, this is a large issue.

  8. We have gotten feedback that some people aren’t seeing SkyDrive for Windows installed on their device after installing the Office 365 Home Premium Preview. If you’ve also noticed this, please open Word and send a FROWN by clicking the smiley face in the upper right corner.

    Make sure to also include your email address as well as the words “SkyDrive for Windows” in the send a frown form. Thank You!

  9. The Skydrive integration is very impressive. Kudos for it and how easy it is to use. Also a big thank you for recognizing that one size does not fit all and adding in a "save to computer by default" option. Giving people more choices in their computing environment is a good thing. I just wish that sentiment was echoed a bit more by the Win8 team.

  10. I like this new version of office 2013, it’s going to put a mark on the 2010 version eventually as "redundant" and "obsolete", BUT IF THE OFFICE PROGRAMMERS WHO DESIGNED THIS PROGRAM are capable of making each copy better, then WHY DON’T THEY HAVE A GO AT CREATING AN OPERATING SYSTEM THEMSELVES…IT COULD PAY DIVIDENDS TO THEM…I REALLY WOULD LIKE TO SEE THIS HAPPEN SOMETIME SOON…

    Chris

  11. Very nice, very thoughtful.
    I love it when I open files in the web on SkyDrive. But how do I disable this when I open a file on my local hard drive? Due to slow Internet Connection the performance is abysmal, pictures linked to a document are missing because the link does not work anymore. In fact, since I have Word 2013 on my notebook the only way for me to edit my office files is to disable my network Connection, which is a hassle!
    So how do I disable this SkyDrive Integration for files in my SkyDrive Folder which are synced to my local harddrive and which I open on my local harddrive?

  12. After using Office/Skydrive integration for a few months, I think the promise you described in this blog just hasn’t worked out.

    * When I save locally to my local skydive folder on disk, it finishes instantly. But when I save to my skydrive then it takes minimum 20 seconds, sometimes 40 seconds, and is far too vulnerable to intermittent network connectivity.

    * There isn’t rhyme or reason to whether the Office returns control of its UI to me so I can continue and leaves the work to the Office Document Uploader, or if it blocks the UI for these 40 seconds.

    * When I "export as PDF" direct my skydrive folder on the cloud, then upon completion Office will try to open the PDF from a cloud URL, which doesn’t work because Skydrive doesn’t have a built-in PDF viewer. Instead it offers me a download prompt. That’s crazy. It was a much better experience when it saved locally.

    In the end, I hate the OfficeSkydrive integration. I want my Office merely to save to the local skydrive folder on my hard disk, and for Office to have no knowledge about the cloud at all. I trust the Skydrive app to get my syncing done right. It has proved more robust, and friendlier, and more responsive, than the built-in Office cloud experience.

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