Microsoft SkyDrive service finally takes flight

Vendor's first online hosted storage offering provides 5GB of free storage space

Microsoft launched the first non-test version of its Windows Live SkyDrive, which provides up to 5GB of free storage capacity, Microsoft officials confirmed in a blog post this week.

The beta version of the hosted offering limited storage to 1GB, the company noted. Microsoft said the new SkyDrive release fixes an assortment bugs found in the beta release along with other improvements making it "faster and more reliable."

File uploads to SkyDrive are limited to 50MB, Microsoft said.

The online file storage service offers password protection and allows users to delegate different permission levels of access to personal, shared or public folders. The company did note that a user must be signed into Microsoft's online network with their own Windows Live ID and password in order to view protected files hosted by SkyDrive. Data transfers are secured via secure socket layer technology, it said.

SkyDrive supports Windows-based and Macintosh PCs, and can be used with Internet Explorer 6 and higher and Mozilla Firefox 1.5 and above. The service is currently available in 38 countries, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is the latest major vendor to offer hosted storage products, following EMC and Symantec.

In addition, Google is reportedly developing an online service offering.

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