Microsoft Throws The Gauntlet On Cloud Storage

Microsoft’s announcement yesterday of offering unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 users is, as it should be, a very big deal.  In effect, they have gone to the market and told everyone that not only can they offer a cloud storage solution, they can do it at a cost that nobody can compete with the possible exception of Apple or Google.  I say this not as a fanboy but as a realist.  Only a company with the experience and shear size of Microsoft could put into play such an audacious plan.  And if you are an executive at Dropbox or Box, I would be waking up this morning worried.

The challenge all cloud storage solutions have had to this point is that it is, effectively, a one-trick pony.  It does what it says on the tin in that it stores your files and photos in some way or another to the cloud.  But that is fundamentally the problem.  You are paying a monthly or yearly premium to simply store your content online so you can access it from anywhere.  Functional, yes.  Great value, no.

OneDrive App for Windows Phone Updated

It has been a busy 24 hours for the OneDrive team at Microsoft.  After announcing unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 users yesterday, they also updated the OneDrive app for Windows Phone.  The update, version 4.4 for those keeping score, brings several new user experience improvements along with support for OneDrive for Business.  Now, like on other platforms, you can sign into both your personal and business OneDrive accounts from the app at the same time.

OneDrive for Windows Phone – Free – Download Now

OneDrive Begins Delievering Unlimited Storage Plans

Earlier today I posted an article bringing to light how serious Microsoft is about cloud computing based on their financials from last quarter.  As if they actually read my post, Microsoft’s OneDrive division has just upped the game for cloud storage in a big way.  If you are an Office 365 subscriber, starting today OneDrive is beginning to roll out unlimited storage for as low as $6.99 per month.

Is there really any doubt left on how good of deal this is for you?

To get this outstanding deal when it comes you need to do the following:

  1. Go to the Microsoft Store and buy either Office 365 Home (for up to 5 PCs/Macs) $99.95 per year or $9.99/month, Office 365 Personal (1 PC or Mac) at $69.95 per year or $6.99 per month or if you are a student, Office 365 University at $79.95 per year.
  2. User your Microsoft ID that you used to purchase Office 365, sign in and install.  As part of the install you will be able to sign up for OneDrive if you don’t have an account.  If you are using OneDrive already and sign into the same account, you will automatically be bumped up to 1TB of storage.

If you are already an Office 365 user then there is nothing more you need to do.  Microsoft will be rolling out this unlimited storage to users over the course of the next few months.  If you want to jump the queue and get it first, follow this link to get moved up in line.

For those of you on Office 365 for Business, the unlimited storage plan will be coming as part of a roadmap update in 2015.  According to the OneDrive blog:

For OneDrive for Business customers, unlimited storage will be listed on the Office 365 roadmap in the coming days and we will begin updating the First Release customers in 2015, aligned with our promise to provide ample notification for significant service changes. In the meantime, get started using your 1 TB of storage today by backing up all those work files kicking around on your PC – with the knowledge that even more storage is on its way!

I cannot think of any reason not to give this a go.  You have the latest and greatest suite of Office apps along with unlimited storage for your documents and pictures.  What’s not to love?

Is Fitbit Betting on Windows Phone over iOS?

Today was a busy day for San Francisco based Fitbit.  The company announced three new fitness activity trackers – the Charge, Charge HR and Surge – all of which will be their next generation of activity trackers.  All three look really impressive and will offer different levels of tracking based on your needs as a user and all three have multiple days of activity between charges which, particularly in the case of the Smartwatch-esque Surge, is important.

Along with this was the announcement from Fitbit and Microsoft of the new Windows Phone app which I highlighted earlier in a post.  That update brings a lot of improvements and enhancements, particularly around SensorCore and Cortana support.  It is the first one of those that is interesting in light of the recent decisions that Fitbit has made around iOS.  It also makes me think that Fitbit is making a bet that Windows Phone, as a platform, is going to take off.

Let me lay a little bit of foundation for those who haven’t kept up with the state of affairs in iOS from Apple.  With the release of iOS 8, Apple introduced Health Kit, an aggregation app if you will that allows you to pull information from the M7/8 motion processor built into the iPhone 5s/6/6 Plus.  It also allows for integration of information from 3rd party apps such as MyFitnessPal and Jawbone’s Up.  It’s this last part that is interesting as Fitbit stated multiple times in their user forums that they have no plans to integrate into Health Kit.  Why is that interesting?  Because during the keynote introducing Health Kit, Fitbit was the first shown.  It seemed, by association, that Fitbit would be tied to Health Kit.  In fact, the link to the user forums above were updated on October 8th with additional confirmation Health Kit integration, for now, won’t be happening.

So that makes the integration with Windows Phone and SensorCore very interesting because it effectively is saying no to iOS and yes to Windows Phone. 

Fitbit for Windows Phone Gets Major Update

On the same day that Fitbit announced a new lineup of personal trackers, the Fitbit for Windows Phone app has received its first major update since being launched this summer.  The update, which is available now in the Windows Phone Store, brings a load of improvements to the app along with integration to Cortana.  What is evident in this release is that Microsoft and Fitbit have worked very closely together on this release and it effectively brings the app to the same level of the iOS and Android versions of the app.

The two big updates in the app are around SensorCore support and Cortana.  SensorCore, which is in some Lumia devices, will track your motion when your phone is in your pocket.  This is similar to the Motion Processor that you find in iPhones today.  In the Fitbit for Windows Phone app, it will use the SensorCore information to track your steps and distance without having to actually wear a Fitbit tracker.  If you want more in depth inforatnion such as calories burned, active minutes and sleep you will need to use a tracker.

Fitbit for Windows Phone – Free – Download Now