There’s not much in the way of surprises for today’s announcement by Microsoft of the general availability of its cloud storage service OneDrive.
The new name had already been previewed, and the product is largely the same as its predecessor, SkyDrive. New features include auto uploads from Android, adaptive personal video streaming a la Netflix and better document collaboration tools that don’t require a Microsoft account.
But as with SkyDrive, the main advantages of storing your stuff with Microsoft is that it should work well with Microsoft Office (unlike Dropbox) and that it’s not wedded to a company that also controls the dominant mobile platform, so it has more platform independence (unlike Google Drive). Also, OneDrive doesn’t do dumb things like store new photos for only 30 days (unlike Apple’s iCloud).
Other than that, the big advantage of OneDrive over SkyDrive is that the first 100,000 people to sign up get 100 gigabytes free for one year.
That’s just one of many possible freebies and tie-ins. Starting with a free base of 7GB, Microsoft will also give 3GB to users who connect their camera rolls, 500MB for users who refer their friends, 200GB for two years for Surface buyers and 100GB for Office 365 users. Additional storage costs 50 cents per gig per month.
Despite competition, there still seems to be plenty of room to grow in the cloud. For the OneDrive launch, Microsoft commissioned a study from Harris that found that 77 percent of people who have heard of cloud storage say they still have important files stored only on one device.
Microsoft said it planned to share details about OneDrive for Business at its SharePoint conference on March 3.