With the launch of Windows 8.1 just around the corner, Microsoft today announced a new storage option for SkyDrive. The cloud storage service, which is now a built-in Windows 8.1 feature, now offers a 200GB storage plan for $100 per year. Until today, the largest paid storage upgrade Microsoft offered was 100GB for $50 per year.
This price is a bit lower than the $120 Google charges for its 200GB/year plan and significantly cheaper than Dropbox’s $99/year for 100GB Pro plan.
SkyDrive is deeply integrated into Windows 8.1 and can cache regularly used files and folders on the local machine and store the rest in the cloud. For most files, Windows 8.1 creates placeholder files in the local file system to make even SkyDrive folders and files feel like they are right on your desktop. You can move, delete, copy and rename them, but they are only downloaded when you access them. This means you could have 200GB of files in the cloud and still access all of them easily from your 32GB Surface 2.
As Microsoft notes in today’s announcement, this smart file system means you don’t really have to worry about local storage, but the company also acknowledges that “the number and size of these files also keeps growing and growing.” The 200GB plan, the company argues, is “enough space to take a photo, every hour, from the moment someone is born, to the day they graduate from college.”
Users who buy a new Surface 2 or Surface 2 Pro will automatically receive the 200GB of SkyDrive storage for free for two years (though this pales in comparison to the 1TB of storage Google gives Chromebook Pixel buyers). In addition, the get free Skype landline calling and unlimited Skype WiFi for one year.