Microsoft has loosened access to Office documents on SkyDrive in order to give people, especially students, an easier way to collaborate on group projects. When sharing an edit link, users will now be able to view and edit a file without having to sign in with a Microsoft account, the company announced today.
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This announcement in Microsoft’s Inside Windows Live blog does not mention anything about mobile browsers.
However, several modern mobile browsers like the ones provided with Android and iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices are HTML5 compliant. And, although Microsoft’s Windows Phone browser is not HTML5 compliant, it is a reasonably good mobile browser. So, I took point my various mobile browsers at SkyDrive.com and found that the site is mobile friendly and works well.
You can see in the photo of a Windows Phone device here that SkyDrive photo folders look as you might expect. I repeated the process on an iPad and found the same good experience there too. Even slide shows of photos stored in SkyDrive worked.
Microsoft SkyDrive provides 25GB of cloud storage for free. So, it was quite a deal even before it became HTML5-compliant and mobile browser friendly. It is now an even better deal for mobile users.
SkyDrive lets you store up to 25GB of data for free in Microsoft’s cloud. Its integration with Windows Phone 7 can be charitabily described as spotty. For example, photos can be uploaded directly to SkyDrive but video cannot. On the other hand, Windows Phone 7 has been able to automatically upload new Windows Phone photos to SkyDrive if that option is turned on. This is something that iOS 5 will deliver to iPhone users later this year. On the Office Mobile side, only OneNote is able to sync files with SkyDrive in Windows Phone 7. Word, Excel and PowerPoint files do not have this capability.
This all changes with the Windows Phone “Mango” update due out sometime this fall. Video uploads to SkyDrive can be enabled as background tasks. And, once on SkyDrive, these video files can be shared. Photos store in SkyDrive will be shareable via email, texting, Live Messenger or Facebook (but not Twitter, apparently).
Microsoft’s description of how SkyDrive integrates with Windows Phone “Mango” does not explicitly say that Office Mobile’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint can directly sync with SkyDrive. However, Microsoft’s Mike Torres did write that This pivot view will show you the complete list of documents shared with you, letting you open and edit in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.
Google Docs on mobile devices, including Android, provides terrible editing capabilties. Spreadsheets, for example, can only be modified a cell at a time within a row. If Microsoft’s Office Mobile integration with SkyDrive works well, Windows Phone will have a big advantage over other mobile platforms in the document modification and creation area.