OneDrive roadmap reveals offline mobile viewing and 'next-gen' desktop sync

Having won the war on cloud storage pricing, Microsoft turns its attention to ease-of-access.

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive may be one of the cheapest cloud storage services, but it’s not necessarily the most convenient.

That’s something Microsoft is looking to change in 2015. Thanks to a roadmap that Microsoft showed at this week’s Ignite conference, we know exactly which features the company is working on, and when they’ll likely arrive.

As Neowin notes, the focus is mainly on making files easier to access and share. For instance, Microsoft is adding read-only offline file access for iOS and Android in the third quarter. OneDrive’s universal Windows 10 app will also have this feature when it launches in the fourth quarter. Microsoft plans to support offline editing and folder sync for its mobile apps in the future, but doesn’t have a timeline yet.

The roadmap also hints at a “next-gen sync client” for PC and Mac, launching as a preview in Q3, and with general availability in Q4. Microsoft has previously said that it’s working on a desktop sync overhaul that lets users view their cloud contents without having to store them locally. While this is already possible with “placeholders” in Windows 8.1, Microsoft removed the feature in Windows 10, citing reliability issues and a confusing interface. It sounds like the improved version won’t be fully-baked in time for Windows 10’s summer launch.

Other features on the way include way to send OneDrive links in Outlook Mobile (Q2), company-shareable links (Q3), and PDF annotation support in iOS and Android (no timeline).

Why this matters: At just $70 per year for unlimited storage, OneDrive is nearly the cheapest cloud storage you can get. (It’s undercut only by Amazon, whose sync tools aren’t nearly as robust.) Still, it’s behind rivals Dropbox and Google Drive on certain features such as offline file access on mobile devices. While lower prices help get people in the door, bridging the feature gap and improving desktop sync should make it easier to stick with the service for the long-haul.

This story, "OneDrive roadmap reveals offline mobile viewing and 'next-gen' desktop sync" was originally published by PCWorld.

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