By Cleona Godinho
Microsoft SkyDrive goes live with 5GB of online storage
Microsoft's storage service, Windows Live SkyDrive has graduated from beta status and is now offering users up to 5Gbytes of free online space.
SkyDrive - which initially offered 1Gbyte of space - provides users with three options for storing and sharing files. Users can choose to have sole access to their files, to share them with people they select, or to make them available to anyone on the web.
Windows Live users can set permissions for each person they share with, either allowing them to add and modify files, or only to view them. Microsoft revealed users must be signed into the firm's online network with their own Windows Live login and password to view and edit files.
"Starting today, you will be able to access all your personal files wherever you are and share them effortlessly with family, friends and colleagues," stated Jonathan Hulse, group director of Windows Live.
According to Microsoft, 5Gbytes equates to approximately 1,000 songs, 30,000 Microsoft Office documents of average size, or 30,000 digital photos at a resolution of 1200x1200. The firm has imposed a 50Mbyte limit on each file uploaded.
Apart from offering 4Gbytes of additional storage, Microsoft officials claim that the new release fixes a numbers of beta bugs, and offers users a "faster and more reliable" service.
SkyDrive supports Windows and Mac PCs, and can be used with Internet Explorer 6 and above and Firefox 1.5 and higher.
A number of industry analysts believe this is part of Microsoft's bid to effectively compete with Google and acquisition target Yahoo in the internet services arena. Yahoo has its own online storage service called Briefcase, which offers users up to 25Mbytes of space.
Meanwhile, there are rumours that Google will soon launch its own online storage service, which netizens have christened 'Gdrive'. Google however is yet to confirm or deny this rumour.