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Microsoft Skydrive Paywall

Storing files online allows people who create and share Word documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, etc. to easily access and organize their work and unclutter their computers’ hard drives. Yes, the files should be additionally backed up on USB memory sticks or external hard drives, but neither of those things offers the same level of convenience when it comes to quickly retrieving a file and sharing it with one or more other people. The cloud rules when it comes to that sort of thing.  But some people store and share more data online than others, and as Microsoft’s new paid storage plans for Sky Drive indicate, storage space costs.

Now, in all fairness, Microsoft doesn’t charge much more for extra storage space than Dropbox. In one instance, SkyDrive actually charges a good bit less than Dropbox for the same amount of storage space. For $10 a year, a small-business owner can store more than 20GB of data on SkyDrive; for $25 a year, more than 50GB; and for $50 a year, he gets more than 100GB of storage. Of course, there is a slight catch. In order to use one of the paid storage options, a person must be able to pay by credit card or, in some markets, via PayPal and have a Windows Live ID associated with either the credit card or PayPal account. Where once people could get up to 25GB of free storage, Microsoft now only offers everyone up to 7GB of aunpaid storage, which is about how much 99.94% of SkyDrive users consume, according to a graphic in a blog post by Steven Sinofsky. Still, Microsoft afforded those who had registered for SkyDrive and already used more than 7GB of storage by Apr. 22, 2012 the chance to keep their 25GB of free storage and still benefit from the upgrades to the service.

The new and improved SkyDrive service, says Sinofsky, will be “more powerful” and, of course, easier to use. The new apps will allow people to access SkyDrive from a Windows phone or iOS device. And SkyDrive will be accessible through Windows Explorer for people using the Window 8, Windows 7 or Windows Vista operating system.

The improvements that Microsoft has made to SkyDrive could make it a stronger competitor for Google Docs. Time – and word of mouth – will tell.

Anyone who’s interested in giving them a try can download the new SkyDrive apps here.

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