OneDrive for Business Gets Standalone Service, Other Improvements

OneDrive for Business Gets Standalone Service, Other Improvements

More improvements to Microsoft's enterprise-class cloud storage

Tied to the opening day of this week's SharePoint Conference 2014, Microsoft has unveiled a number of changes to OneDrive for Business (formerly SkyDrive Pro). Among the updates are a new standalone subscription version of OneDrive for Business, user experience enhancements, and new mobile apps.

"OneDrive for Business is personal online storage for a company's employees," Microsoft general manager Julia White notes in a new post to The OneDrive Blog. "It's the place where people can store, sync, and share their work files across multiple devices with ease and security. With OneDrive for Business you can collaborate with others in real time right from within Office and edit documents from virtually anywhere via a web browser in real time using Office Online. Accessing your files from multiple devices is a cinch with native OneDrive for Business and Office Mobile apps."

Note: Rafael Rivera and I are not coincidentally using OneDrive for Business in Office 365 Small Business to collaborate on our new book, Windows 8.1 Field Guide.

So, what's changing?

Standalone subscription service

Starting April 1, Microsoft will be introducing a new standalone subscription service version of OneDrive for Business that can be acquired outside of an Office 365 subscription. (There are other similar non-Office 365 subscription offerings like this, including individual services (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online) and Office 365 ProPlus, a subscription-based version of the Office 2013 Professional Plus suite.)

The standalone OneDrive for Business service will provide 25 GB of online storage per user with the option to purchase additional storage, and it will provide the same PC sync and device access options as Office 365. The normal cost will be $5 per month, but through September Microsoft will offer promotional pricing of just $2.50 per month.

Improved user experience

If you use or follow Office 365, you know that Microsoft has improved the service dramatically over its first year in the market—I ran through a bunch of them recently in Happy Birthday, Office 365—but many of these changes are directly related to OneDrive for Business (aka SkyDrive Pro): increased file size support, higher storage limits with additional purchase options, mobile apps (Office Mobile for iPhone and Android, plus a native OneDrive for Business app for iOS), and improved user experiences like the Shared with Me view.

This week, Microsoft is unveiling more changes to the OneDrive for Business web UI (though I'm not seeing them appear yet). These include:

Simple controls. The web-based OneDrive for Business interface is picking up simple and clear command options that you accomplish common tasks more easily.

Site folders view. Microsoft is adding a new Site Folders view that takes you directly to document libraries of the sites you're following.

Search. A new search box has type-ahead features so you can quickly find a document that was shared with you or is perhaps hidden in folder somewhere in your cloud storage.

Simpler access to your web storage. Now you can just navigate to (where site-name is your Office 365 or OneDrive for Business tenant name) to access your web storage directly. (This one does work for me now.)

More soon. Microsoft is also previewing some OneDrive for Business features that are coming down the road, including advanced auditing and reporting features, encryption at rest, data loss prevention (DLP), extensibility improvements, even higher storage limits, and more.

New mobile app (for iOS)

While you can continue to access OneDrive for Business normally with the Office Mobile app for Windows Phone, iOS or Android, as well as the standalone OneDrive for Business app for Windows 8/RT, Microsoft today announced an upgrade for its iOS app, which of course now utilizes the OneDrive for Business name.

OneDrive for Business for iOS (it works with both iPhone and iPad) now supports additional types of authentication, and provides an improved (and iOS 7-like) login experience plus numerous bug fixes and UI optimizations, Microsoft says.

I'm surprised there isn't a standalone Android app for OneDrive for Business yet.

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