Microsoft’s SkyDrive gets HTML5 speed boost

21 Jun 2011

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Microsoft’s personal drive in the cloud – SkyDrive – has been given an HTML5 makeover to make it faster, easier to navigate and optimised for viewing and sharing photos. So far, 100m people have used SkyDrive on the web.

“Browser modernisation has really opened up the window for us to rethink and re-architect how we build our websites,” Microsoft’s Omar Shahine said in the Windows blog.

“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,” Shahine said.

Microsoft has reduced the length of times to do core tasks, like clicking folders and navigating photo albums, from six to nine seconds down to 100-300 milliseconds.

The company said it focused on building a site powered by HTML5 to include advancements like HTML5 Video, CSS3 and client rendered experiences.

“We evaluated and removed anything that slowed the experience down or got in the way of a fast, clean site,” Shahine explained.

“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,” he added.

Changes to SkyDrive advertising model

This is a total ground-up re-evaluation of SkyDrive. Microsoft also restructured the current advertising placement on SkyDrive because users had pointed out it didn’t make sense.

“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 1bn 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,” Shahine said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com