Microsoft has announced the rumoured paid storage options for SkyDrive, its cloud storage service, and has rolled out previews of several new SkyDrive apps for Windows and Mac OS X Lion.
Brand new SkyDrive users in the US get 7GB of storage for free. Existing users (those with accounts as of 22 April) will continue to get up to 25GB of storage for free if they opt to do so. After that, an additional 20GB costs US$10 per year; an additional 50GB costs US$25 per year; and an additional 100GB costs US$50 per year.
Interestingly, the Australian pricing is identical: AU$10 for an additional 20GB per year, AU$25 for an additional 50GB per year and AU$50 for an additional 100GB per year.
Microsoft also made available for download on 23 April a preview version of SkyDrive for Windows, a local version of its SkyDrive client. This is the first step it has taken towards integrating SkyDrive with Live Mesh, the company's synchronisation service that's similar to Dropbox. The preview is available for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 consumer preview.
With the SkyDrive app for Windows, everything put in a SkyDrive folder on a Windows PC is automatically kept in sync between PCs, Macs and SkyDrive.com, according to the download site. Also on the feature list:
The ability to access SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer — photos, documents and other files
The option to add new files to SkyDrive by dragging them to the SkyDrive folder
The ability to organise files and folders in SkyDrive, just like any other folder
The option to connect back to the PC if the user forgets to put something in SkyDrive.
Microsoft officials have been working to turn SkyDrive into a fully fledged service, rather than just a website, for the past several months. The company's moves on this front have taken on an urgency, with Google's competitor product, Google Drive, finally materialising after years of rumours.
Microsoft also made available an updated version of its SkyDrive app for Windows Phone on 22 April, and for iOS on 23 April. There's also a new preview of SkyDrive for Mac OS X Lion available for download today.