Hidden among the Patch Tuesday security updates this week was an interesting update for OneDrive in Windows 8.1 which includes both fixes and new features. Key among them, the OneDrive desktop application now provides more information and additional functionality.
This may not seem like a big deal, as the changes appear to be somewhat subtle. But in comparing this update to a pre-update version, it's pretty clear that this is a most welcome change that makes the desktop experience a bit more like it was in Windows 7. Which is to say, better.
To understand what I mean, consider how OneDrive worked before the update. If you clicked the OneDrive icon in the system tray, a File Explorer window would open (for some reason). And if you right-clicked the icon, you'd get a small menu with just two choices: Open OneDrive in File Explorer and View Sync Problems (which would be grayed out if there were no problems).
After applying the update—which most people will experience whenever the Patch Tuesday updates are installed and the PC reboots—OneDrive is a bit different. Now, when you click the icon, a new pop-up dialog appears, displaying OneDrive sync status and providing links to force a sync, pause syncing, and access OneDrive in File Explorer.
And when you right-click the icon, the menu that appears has many more options, in addition to the ones listed above: Go to the OneDrive website, OneDrive storage, Settings, and Help.
If you click the OneDrive storage item, PC Settings will open to the OneDrive, File Storage view, letting you manage your storage.
And the Settings item provides a Settings dialog (much) like the one from Windows 7: here, you can configure OneDrive to make all of your files available offline, or make all of them online-only. (In Windows 7, there was a weird interface for picking and choosing which exact folders were available offline, but the issue there was that the ones you skipped weren't viewable at all in File Explorer.) Previously, these options were only available in the Settings interface for the Modern app version of OneDrive which, let's face it, most desktop users aren't all that interested in.
Put simply, this is a nice, and most welcome, change.