SkyDrive logoOnce again, we’ve just released a bunch of new features for Windows Live SkyDrive – the cloud storage system that’s part of Windows Live, and the Live@edu email service used by millions of teachers and students.

You can read all of the detail on the Building Windows 8 blog, and I thought that a short summary would help – especially as so many education users have SkyDrive switched on through their Live@edu email service. After the summary below, there’s some advice about what you should tell your users - teachers and students - soon

What’s new in SkyDrive?

We’ve released a bunch of new applications to make it easier to access, and synchronise, your SkyDrive from the various devices in your life:

  • SkyDrive for Windows desktop app – there’s a preview version of a new app for Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista
  • SkyDrive for Max OS X Lion – a new preview client for Apple computers
  • SkyDrive for Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch – we’ve updated these apps and added a bunch of new features to help you manage your SkyDrive and share files

The SkyDrive for Windows app allows you to access your SkyDrive storage directly from Windows Explorer – you see it like an additional drive – so that you can store files there and it handles all of the background synchronisation – so that any files you store there are synchronised between your local computer, your SkyDrive in the cloud, other devices running the SkyDrive app and your mobile devices.

You can get all of the new apps from the SkyDrive website

How does SkyDrive work?

In non-geeky terms, what you see is the equivalent of another disk drive, where you can store files, create folders etc. Each file can be up to 2GB in size, and you get 7GB of free storage space, plus plenty of ways to expand it. And because the SkyDrive apps handle the synchronisation, you can access the storage when you’re online and offline, and any changes you make are synced in the background. And er, that’s it. Think of it like your personal hard disk which is always plugged into all your devices, and to the web, at the same time.

How much free storage do I get on SkyDrive?

As of today, a new SkyDrive user gets 7GB of free storage in the Cloud, and if that simply isn’t enough, you can add storage plans with an annual subscription, to give you an extra, 20GB, 50GB or 100GB (more about that on the SkyDrive website)

However, if you’ve been using SkyDrive and uploaded files to it any time up to 22nd April, you can have your free storage limit increased to 25GB (which is the original storage limit). So if you have users – teachers, students, or yourself – that have a SkyDrive in use already, then this is the advice to follow and share:

What you need to tell your teachers and students next week about the new SkyDrive

Existing users (ie those who’d been using their SkyDrive before 22nd April) can increase their free storage limit from the standard 7GB to 25GB, as a loyalty reward. All they have to do is ask for it!

To do that, you simply log into your SkyDrive account at SkyDrive.com, and on the left hand side of the screen there will be an option to ‘Manage storage’.

When I clicked on Manage Storage, I then got the message below – allowing me to click the ‘Free Upgrade’ button to increase my storage limit from 7GB to 25GB for free:

How to increase free storage on SkyDrive

So that’s it – I’ve now got 25GB of free cloud storage, and now I’ve downloaded the Windows 7 and Windows 8 app, I’ve got that synchronised to my work laptop, my home PCs and to the cloud. As far as I’m concerned, that’s magic Smile

Learn MoreRead the full post about SkyDrive on the Building Windows 8 blog
Go to your SkyDrive, or create a new one, at www.SkyDrive.com

Questions about this? There’s an FAQ for the upgrade info, as well as an online SkyDrive forum