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In a move to keep pace with users' accelerating migration of their photos and documents to the cloud, Microsoft this week rolled out a "modernized" version of its SkyDrive free cloud file storage service.
Among other new features, the relaunched SkyDrive has quicker performance, is easier to get around in, and handles photos and Office files in a more intuitive fashion, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) officials said.
"Starting today, we are launching a new version of the SkyDrive website [where] we took advantage of modern browsers and HTML5 to make SkyDrive faster, easier to navigate, and more beautiful for viewing photos," Omar Shahine, group program manager for SkyDrive.com, said in a post to the Inside Windows Live blog, Monday.
For example, Shahine said, the time to navigate among photo albums or open folders has been cut from between 6 and 9 seconds to 100 to 300 milliseconds, partly through using hardware-accelerated graphics.
Using Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), users can pin SkyDrive to the taskbar for quick access to documents and photos. Microsoft has also simplified file and photo access by introducing a user interface that looks much like the Windows File Explorer, with the aim of making navigating around SkyDrive more intuitive to use.
Additionally, the new site takes advantage of HTML5 video and Cascading Style Sheets 3 (CSS3).
"SkyDrive always arranges your photos in a clean layout that preserves the original aspect ratio ... using 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+," Shahine added.
Further, browsers that support HTML5 video tags will play back H.264 videos of up to 100 MB in size.
In a nod towards social networking, many of SkyDrive's new features leverage collaboration, such as one-click access to groups and mailing lists.
The company first introduced SkyDrive, as Windows Live SkyDrive, in 2007.