OneDrive vs SkyDrive: What's the difference?

Microsoft's efforts in the cloud aren't going away, but will be under a new name.

The company announced last month that it's renaming SkyDrive to OneDrive, following a lawsuit in the UK from media company BSkyB. Now the rebranding changes are finally here and it's not just about the name. Exciting new features for customers have been added as well.

We've rounded up the differences between OneDrive and SkyDrive, and have discovered how Microsoft's cloud portal has evolved.

The name

It's becoming evident that Microsoft's "One" branding isn't just for the Xbox gaming division. Not only did it restructure its management under a "one Microsoft" in 2013, but now Microsoft's cloud efforts fall under OneDrive.

OneDrive is Microsoft's competitor to Google Drive and Apple's iCloud, attempting to be the place where customers can manage their files on the cloud from anywhere. The name change to OneDrive from SkyDrive doesn't change the overall meaning of what Microsoft is pursuing in the cloud: your one stop shop for file access - old name or new name.

Access

OneDrive is accessible from the web, desktop, mobile devices and the Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles.

The web address has changed to onedrive.com. Additionally, updates will be pushed out to mobile devices to reflect the name change and new features.

On desktop it's a little more complicated. Windows 8.1 needs an update of its own to alter the embedded app, and Microsoft tells Pocket-lint the update is on its way.

Storage

OneDrive is free for 7GB of storage space, just like SkyDrive. Microsoft offers perks for users, like the ability to gain 3GB of extra space by enabling their smartphones to automatically upload photos. Friends who join based on referrals from a friend can also earn both the user and the friend an extra 500MB. This can be done up to seven times.

For the data hungry users, extra storage space can be purchased with 50GB costing £16 a year, 100GB £32 a year, and 200GB £64 a year.

The old

The goal of OneDrive is to be the place where users can upload and sync files to the cloud and access them from any device. Not changing from SkyDrive, OneDrive users can still access Office Web Apps to view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents.

OneDrive features document embedding and integration with the desktop version of Microsoft Office to edit files saved on the cloud. There's also integration with Outlook to upload and save documents right from within the email service.

Photos are also a big part of OneDrive, as they can be uploaded as a big .zip file and can be the place to store your big collection. It also features a nifty photo slideshow feature, so you can sit back and view family vacations, a weekend out with friends, or any other moment from your life.

The new

Like we said before, the OneDrive name change also brings new features - ones that you'll probably enjoy.

The biggest, is that OneDrive users can now collaborate on documents in real time like on Google Drive, from any device. In the past, multiple people had access to documents, but had to edit them solo, creating a tag team effect, and making it inefficient to work on documents together. Now, you can see who is editing what, as you type.

Additionally, the OneDrive Android application has gained the ability to set a handset's camera application to automatically upload all photos to the cloud service, something iOS and Windows Phone 8 versions have been able to do for a while. This makes for an easy way to have a backup of all your photos. But be careful, this is an easy way to eat into your 7GB free data allotment.

Lastly, video uploads have been given a dramatic change in OneDrive, improving the ability to share and view them. Within OneDrive sits a new engine that encodes video on the fly so that once you've uploaded a video to your OneDrive storage and share it to friends or family, the version streamed to their device will take into account the speed and bandwidth of their connection. For example, your video might have been uploaded at 720p, but they might view it a 360p on a mobile phone using a 3G connection. Plans are that there will no longer be any buffering timeouts or spinning wheels.

Conclusion

OneDrive is improving on SkyDrive, there's really no bad way to spin it.

If you were a SkyDrive user in the past, you probably won't mind the rebranding and new features.

If you're not a OneDrive user, you may want to check it out, especially if you find yourself embedded in Microsoft's ecosystem - including Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8, and the Xbox One.