Microsoft is continuing its cloud efforts by dramatically overhauling it’s SkyDrive website to take advantage of HTML5 and adding a lot of enhancements, the most immediate being the speed difference. This is pretty important for Windows Phone users who rely on SkyDrive since this makes the overall offering even better. And just looking at how it handles photos five you an indication as to what to expect from future Windows 8 tablets from Microsoft. But just check out this video to see it in action:

And here’s the complete details:

We’re committed to making SkyDrive the best place to get access to your content from anywhere, collaborate on Office docs, and share photos. Mike recently talked about how we’re delivering access to your information seamlessly across devices – starting with Windows Phone.

But a key part to delivering on our goals is having a great web experience that works across platforms. While over 100 million people have tried SkyDrive on the web, we know that there’s a lot more we can do to improve the experience. So starting today, we are launching a new version of the SkyDrive website. We took advantage of modern browsers and HTML5 to make SkyDrive faster, easier to navigate, and more beautiful for viewing photos. The new SkyDrive will be rolling out soon, so check back if you don’t see it right away.

Faster

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Additionally, these features all work in your SkyDrive groups as well. So if you have created a group for your family, soccer league, or any other group, you have the same lightning fast, beautiful experience interacting with your shared photos and documents. And we’ve brought things like one click access to your group mailing list right in SkyDrive.

More to come…

The SkyDrive team hopes you enjoy these improvements. This release represents the beginning of a lot of things we’re excited to bring you, and we’re looking forward to shedding more light on those features as they take shape.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I love this!!! So next will be integration into Windows Explorer.
    Better than the measly 5GB iCloud offering that isn’t here yet

  2. This is great, I just tried it and find it more convenient to use then before. Love the speed it has now and the “explorer” type view makes it easier to understand.

  3. I pinned Skydrive to my start screen on my Windows Phone. Quick access with a single touch. Even in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone you can see the gallery transitions due to the website taking advantage of CSS3 transitions.

    Microsoft is getting in gear and its a sight to behold.

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