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SkyDrive Gets Updated: Faster, Better Looking and Running on HTML5

June 21, 2011 4 Comments

Skydrive has just received a much needed upgrade. It’s no shocker that they have gone the HTML5 route in recreating their awesome free cloud service. Why is this important to Windows Phone 7 users? Not only is this the service we use now to sync our one note documents and images online. But after Mango we will be able to sync Word, Excel and even stream video using Skydrive. The new SkyDrive looks great and I rather enjoyed using it. Here is the breakdown of the new features provided by the Windows Team.


Browser modernization has really opened up the window for us to rethink and re-architect how we build our websites. Whether it’s Hotmail or SkyDrive, taking advantage of the advancements in the browser space is critical to ensuring a fast and fluid experience. While we have always focused on improving the performance of our websites, it was clear that we had reached a point where the kinds of performance gains we were hoping for would not come without an assessment of our entire experience from the ground up. SkyDrive has been around since 2007 and was simply not built for the modern web.

We focused our performance investments in the following areas:

  • We improved many core tasks and scenarios. For example, clicking folders and navigating photo albums will go from 6-9 seconds down to 100-300 milliseconds, and we took advantage of hardware accelerated graphics to make it fast to click through photo slideshows. We’ll address additional core tasks in the future.\
  • We focused on building a site powered by HTML5 so that we could include advancements like HTML5 Video, CSS3, and client rendered experiences, as well as making sure our slide show experience was great in all browsers without any special software.
  • We evaluated and removed anything that slowed the experience down or got in the way of a fast, clean site.
  • With Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7, you can pin SkyDrive to your taskbar for faster access to your files. You can create Word, Excel, or PowerPoint docs stored in the cloud in just one click.

Easier to navigate

SkyDrive has always provided access to your files on many desktop and mobile browsers. However, we’ve received a lot of feedback that it was hard to navigate with several entry points to your files (skydrive.live.com, office.live.com and photos.live.com) and with views that did not make it clear as to what was your stuff and what was shared with you. We’ve taken a fresh approach to solving this problem by providing a single place to see your photos, docs, files shared with you, and files in SkyDrive groups.

One principle in designing the new site is that SkyDrive should be focused on putting your content front and center. The old SkyDrive had a summary of your recent stuff, things shared with you, and activity in your social feed. We heard from many of you that this was confusing and it required too many clicks to get to a document or album. We also looked at the current advertising placement on SkyDrive and decided that this didn’t make sense in this experience. We removed ads to create room for a pane of info about your files, so you can do things like open a doc in Word or Excel on the desktop, directly from SkyDrive.

The new SkyDrive cuts the clutter and presents a clean, simple view of all your documents and photos

For many of you, this view will seem familiar because we decided to make the navigational elements and layout consistent with Windows. This has a couple of benefits: 1) Our 1 billion Windows customers will find the site to be familiar and easy to use, and 2) SkyDrive now fills the page, which really showcases your content using as much of the screen as you allow. This means that getting to your stuff will be more predictable and consistent with how you already work.

If you’re wondering what happened to things like your recent docs and your social feed, don’t worry; they’re still here. You can always get to your recent documents under the Quick views entry or by clicking SkyDrive in the header. You can get to your social updates by going to http://live.com and using the photos and documents filter to get the specific items you’re looking for.

For those of you who are using Internet Explorer 9, we’ve also provided a fast way to get to SkyDrive from your Windows Taskbar using Pinned Sites and Jump Lists. In doing so, you have even faster access to your SkyDrive and quick access to common tasks like creating Office documents.

Get to SkyDrive from your Windows Taskbar

But we’re not done, and we’re continuing to make SkyDrive even better. Since we take an iterative approach to building software, not all of SkyDrive has been redesigned at this time. There are parts of the experience like creating a new album, uploading, renaming files, sharing, and editing permissions that are also scheduled to get a makeover soon.

More beautiful and fluid for photos

One important area of focus for SkyDrive was on making your photos shine. For many of us, our photos represent our most cherished memories, and they deserve an immersive, fast experience that gets the browser out of the way and lets the photos speak for themselves. When you view your photos in SkyDrive, you get a clean, rich view that fills the browser.

Photos fill the browser

When you select an album, the new mosaic layout displays your pictures in a way that lets you see all your photos in their original aspect ratio. We create thumbnails that reflect the way you took the picture, whether it be a portrait, a landscape, or a panorama shot.

Our new bestfit grid beautifully displays pictures so that you can see everything

Regardless of what screen you have, how big your browser window is, or how many photos you have, SkyDrive always arranges your photos in a clean layout that preserves the original aspect ratio. To do this, we use CSS3 Transitions, a new standard that lets us use subtle animations to rearrange the thumbnails when you resize the browser window. There are early levels of support already in Firefox 4+, Chrome X+, and in IE 10+.

With infinite scrolling, we’ve eliminated pages in the photo viewing experience. Now, you can just scroll the page and see your photos quickly fill in. It looks and feels like a native application.

To see the new photo album experience, just click a photo. The experience puts you in control of what you’re looking at and gets out of your way.

The new Photo Album experience gives you more control of your pictures

The album viewer is built using HTML5 and supports a variety of browsers. If your browser supports accelerated graphics, like Internet Explorer 9, you’ll notice things are fast and fluid. We also take advantage of the HTML5 video tag to support playback of H.264 videos (up to 100 MB), which is also new for this release.

Source: Windows Team


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  • Percu

    But you cannot move documents any more??????

    • http://wp7connect.com Hyde13

      Yes you still can  :)   You have to ckick the icon on the right to show more information. Than it will show the option to move.

      Hope this helps!

      • Percu

        No way Hyde13. I already tried it, but just appearing (View, Edit, Open, Version History, Download, rename and Delete). How strange!

        • http://wp7connect.com Hyde13

          I see it just fine and I even copied a file to another folder just a second ago. Check it out….

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