Yesterday as I was watching some of the live streamed sessions coming from Microsoft Ignite in Chicago I was able to catch one from Reuben Krippner who is the Director for Product Management on the OneDrive team.
The presentation, A File’s Future with OneDrive for Business, was focused on OneDrive but late in the presentation the OneDrive Roadmap was shared.
I shared an image of the slide via Twitter in fact when I saw it because it had some interesting details about the release of universal OneDrive apps and a combined next gen sync engine.
As you can see in Quarter 4 of this year the company plans to deliver a Windows 10 universal app for the service. The updated app will include read-only offline file support and operate very similarly to its iOS and Android counterparts and of course be optimized for touch and gestures.
This universal app will also allow you to have accounts for both OneDrive for Business and the consumer version of the cloud storage system in one place.
The new sync engine for PC and Mac will also be released that same quarter and it will be one single sync engine for business and consumer OneDrive – no more multiple sync engines.
This is all great info but a very interesting dialog began afterwards during the sessions Q&A period when someone asked about OneDrive stub files aka placeholders.
You may recall placeholders were basically shortcuts to files that you had in OneDrive which were stored online only. They were removed in an update to OneDrive last year because the feature apparently caused too much confusion of what was online/offline for some customers.
Reuben deflected the question to one of his colleagues, Jason Moore, who was scheduled to give his own presentation on the OneDrive for Business sync engine called I Sync, Therefore I Am: A Deep Dive on OneDrive Sync Capabilities and Roadmap.
Jason is the Group Program Manager for OneDrive Sync and if you have time then listen to his entire presentation on OneDrive Sync – he is a great presenter.
The question did get asked in his session at about the 47:20 mark and this is a paraphrase of his answer:
- Capabilities similar to the Windows 8.1 stub files are now being built into Windows 10; long term they will continue to invest in this scenario
- Current technology in Windows 8.1 for the stub files does not meet their standards; it was not simple to explain to the average human being (user)
- Windows 10 Search can go online to OneDrive and bring down results from the service and then display them with your local files results even for online only files
- As for browsing the files instead of searching there is still more work to be done there but we do care about that scenario
So bottom line is that placeholders are not coming back anytime soon however, Microsoft is working on a solution that should allow us to browse our online files in Windows 10 without having to use the web browser as we do currently.
Not a perfect answer but at least we know they are aware of the concern and continue to work on a solution for it.
Maybe just a hint of blue sky through the clouds at this point.