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Microsoft Opens Up SkyDrive to More Apps

While much of the excitement in the Microsoft world involves blockbuster products like Windows and Xbox, I've been more interested lately in the company's cloud computing and mobile endeavors. And it's been interesting to watch Microsoft turn up the volume considerably in recent days around accessory cloud services like Windows Live SkyDrive, which is excellent but not broadly understood by consumers. This week, Microsoft provided another update for SkyDrive, this one aimed at developers.

"SkyDrive is a key part of your 'device cloud,' letting you work and play easily across your PC and phone," Microsoft's Dare Obasanjo writes in a blog post. "SkyDrive also works with apps like Microsoft Office and OneNote so you can organize, collaborate and share from anywhere. We believe that the most value for our customers comes when more people and more apps can connect to the cloud from most available devices."

From a developer perspective, SkyDrive is backed by a new version of Microsoft's Live Connect APIs and a newly created Live SDK. As Obasanjo notes, a major new capability provided by these APIs is the ability of any third party application (Windows, mobile, whatever) to "fully access, upload and share documents, photos and videos from a user's cloud storage in SkyDrive."

You may recall that I've complained in the past that Microsoft doesn't provide this capability natively in Windows, though it remains to be seen whether such a thing will be possible in Windows 8, which will include other integration pieces with Windows Live in general and SkyDrive and particular. Today, it's possible to add this interaction--a way to natively access SkyDrive storage from the Explorer shell--via third party apps like Gladinet Cloud Storage and SDExplorer. But in the future, this kind of interaction will be more commonplace.

Anyway, what Microsoft's now pushing is the new version of the Live Connect APIs and the Live SDK for Windows Phone, which provide developers with the tools they need to build these apps and other solutions. On Windows 8, of course, and on Windows Phone. "With this API change, any app on any platform now gets to take advantage of the fact that any user with a Windows Live ID, including every Windows 8 user, has free cloud storage in SkyDrive that they can integrate into their experience to access their documents and photos," Obasanjo writes.

Obviously, this news isn't of immediate importance to typical users yet. But with developers hammering away at the code now, hopefully we'll see some cool stuff in the near future.

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