July 26, 2012, 2:13 PM — SkyDrive seemed destined to be another Microsoft also-ran product. Although introduced long before the current wave of cloud-based synchronization and storage services, SkyDrive had a number of frustrating limits, and comprised two separately named services (central and peer-to-peer file transfer) under one hood. Then Microsoft did something marvelous. The same week that Google released its long-expected Google Drive, Microsoft unveiled a thorough revamping of SkyDrive into an explicable and competitive service. (Microsoft lists the version that I reviewed as version 16.4.)
On the basics, SkyDrive compares to Dropbox ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) and Google Drive. The service provides desktop sync software for Windows and Mac OS X (10.7 Lion only), as well as mobile access software for Windows Phone and iOS. A Web app also provides access to your storage, too, with drag-and-drop uploads in the browser. Uploads and syncs on the desktop happen speedily and without any tedious management.
However, SkyDrive offers zero Finder integration beyond a system menu item, and thats a problem for Mac users, especially compared to Dropbox and Google Drive. While neither service has a full-fledged native software client, such as that offered by SugarSync on multiple platforms, both provide cues. Google and Dropbox show the status of sync on an individual file and folder basis by updating an icon to show a green checkmark or other symbols.
Dropbox uses a contextual menu to pick from activities related to a file or folder, all of which are performed in a Web browser, but which at least take you to the right place. Google omits that. Microsoft omits both. You dont realize how much you rely on the icon cues and contextual menu option until theyre gone. I found myself repeatedly dropping down the SkyDrive system menu, which shows the current sync status, to see if uploads or downloads were complete.