Pro? No.

Cloud services are an fascinating and fast moving area. My tool of choice is Dropbox, perhaps the most reliable software product of all time. None of the big players seem to be able to match the quality of service that even non-paying users get from Dropbox. Many developers complain about iCloud, Apple’s syncing service. For users, iCloud is flaky and confusing. Google Drive is too tightly integrated with online document editing for me, and rather creepily sucked down documents from my Gmail, which crossed a line. Microsoft has Skydrive, which put most people off by its byzantine complexity (something Windows users must demand). None of these options are as easy, polite and restrained as Dropbox. There’s a reason why everyone has Dropbox.

One limitation of Dropbox is that for the free version, you cannot go above roughly 6 Gb. If all you ever do is write text files and the odd spreadsheet, then it’s a lot of space. But “Pro” users have video, images, large data files and presentations that quickly fill this space. Often bundles of files (like Keynote presentations, or datasets) can be hundreds of megabytes. I don’t feel like a pro, but I know that I demand more than a casual user.

However, Spotdox, a Dropbox app which lets you see your entire hard drive for any linked computer and remotely push files from it into Dropbox, gets around this limitation nicely. It’s still free for now. It works great. I was able to see the desktop of my office machine in Berlin from a web browser in New York last weekend. Very useful.

I’m so far out of Windows that I really know almost nothing about it. I try to keep up to date with what they’ve got going on so I occasionally read Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows. I find this approach much less painful than trying to find information on the Microsoft website, or actually using Windows. The site isn’t always balanced, and on occasion borders on the comic because it is so blinkered. It’s well written and fulfils it’s primary role – as a resource for Windows users – admirably.  I read about Office 365 SkyDrive Pro. In principle, this product could be a killer for Microsoft – integration into the operating system could be seamless and deep. I found myself wishing that Apple would develop an integrated solution, rather than the ephemeral iCloud. But O365SDP has a 7Gb limit, with no option to pay for more! Like the free version of Dropbox. But we are talking about a “pro” product, not a free option.

The suggestions (workarounds), for the Pros, remember, are: put stuff elsewhere, or delete stuff you don’t need any more! Great! I never would have thought of those.

The “Pro” features seem to be integration with largely unloved Microsoft services like Outlook and flaky social features. I’m going to quote a paragraph in full from the “workarounds” page because it’s such beautiful, passive aggressive, Microsoftese:

Of course, sometimes you might initially store a document in your SkyDrive Pro library, but then determine that it belongs in a team site or community site. It’s fine to move documents but it’s important to remember that you or other people with whom you’ve shared the document might have posted links to it, perhaps in a newsfeed. In this case, once the document is moved, these links will no longer be valid and will need to be re-created in order to point to the new location of the document. With this detail in mind, you might want to reconsider uploading certain documents to team sites or community sites in the first place.

You want to move a file? We are going to force you to do because you lack simple storage capacity. We can’t be bothered to code in useful features (we know that this limitation is going to hurt you but it would be, wow, really challenging to code that), so links are just going to break. You probably should have worked out before you started that you would be using a hobbled service and done things differently. So there. And you’re locked in – so thzzzzzzzzzup!

Imagine how many hours people will waste restoring broken content if they are forced to use SkyDrive Pro. Paul Thurrott “expects this [storage limit] to change” and flim-flams about deep archives. I expect that Microsoft will continue to make baffling products with punitive limitations that nobody really wants, but some people are forced to enjoy. Not I.

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One thought on “Pro? No.

  1. Pingback: Can’t see the Struggle | Serious Piffle

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