Microsoft updates Office 365 and SkyDrive

Microsoft this week released major updates to its Office 365 online productivity suite and SkyDrive cloud storage services, including feature upgrades, improved sharing and mobile access, as well as opening them out to a wider market.

In the case of Office 365, Microsoft has given 22 new markets access to the online productivity suite, including Argentina, South Africa, Taiwan and Turkey.

Other changes include Sharepoint support for IE9 and Chrome, support for Mac OS X Lion (including Lync for Mac), a new Office Web App Preview for Outlook Web Access, a password reset tool for admins, and importantly, support for Windows Phone 7.5 Mango devices.

Changes to SkyDrive are significant, and based upon usage patterns observed by Microsoft in the period since the service’s launch. Users can now work on SkyDrive files within the content of their application, making SkyDrive more “app-centric.”

Sharing is also much easier now, and can now be done over networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, apart from e-mails. A direct-link method is also available, to ensure a closed user group, and as before, files can be made public as well.

Speaking on the new features of SkyDrive, Omar Shahine, a principal program manager at Microsoft, said:

“So how you wanted to share also dictated the way you organized your data. Also, sharing on SkyDrive was designed to work best when you shared files with people in your Windows Live network. Meanwhile, the most common scenario—sharing or collaborating with friends or colleagues across email services or other networks—was often a complex and unreliable process.”

Other SkyDrive changes include inline folders, bulk file transfer, in-line move and copy, right-click functionality, HTML5 and CS3 uploads, improved photo management including captions, photo slideshows, support for file types like PDF and RAW, as well as improved performance by larger preloads, a faster log-in process.