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Microsoft blurs the line between desktop and cloud with OneDrive update

By Sarah Perez as written on
At Microsoft’s Build 2017 event today, the company introduced a new feature for the company’s cloud storage service OneDrive that will allow you to access your files without using up device storage. Called “Files On-Demand,” the feature will roll out along with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and will give users more control over which files are stored locally versus in the cloud.
The feature is basically Microsoft’s own take on Dropbox’s Smart Sync, as it lets you view all the files and folders directly in File Explorer, instead of only seeing those you’ve opted to sync to your device.
The idea is that the more you use online storage – creating files and uploading photos and working across multiple devices – the more you need to be able to see all your documents, and not worry if you had forgotten to sync something to your current device.
But while Dropbox’s Smart Sync was introduced as a feature for business users, OneDrive’s Files On-Demand supports your personal and work OneDrive accounts, as well as SharePoint Online team sites.
In addition, your OneDrive files won’t just be visible on your desktop, they’ll also be shown in the file picker when you’re using a Windows store application. When you select a given file from the picker, it will automatically download and open in the app – like a local file would.
The user interface in Windows 10 File Explorer will also be updated so you can better see which files are available on the device and in the cloud, thanks to the use of a small cloud icon in a column labeled “Status.” You’ll still be able to tell how much storage space the file will require if you choose to download it, as its size information is available in Explorer as well, even if the file isn’t yet on your device.
You can also choose to make certain folders or files always available offline with a right-click, then choosing “Always keep on this device” from the menu.
However, you generally won’t have to go through this process – it’s only really necessary if you know you’ll be spending a lot of time offline and don’t want to lose access to your more critical folders and files. Most times, while you’re connected to the internet, you can just double-click files and usual to open them into an app, and the file will automatically download to your device.
The feature has another benefit for larger organizations using SharePoint Online team sites – it will reduce the network bandwidth by reducing the continual syncing that occurs today when changes are made.
At present, when anyone makes a change, files are re-downloaded on all synced devices. This is no longer necessary, as the files in their updated format will be available whenever the user clicks them.
While Files On-Demand works well on desktop devices, on mobile, connectivity is often more of an issue. Microsoft addressed this by introducing a new option that will allow users to save entire folders to your mobile device, so you can open the files they contain once you have a connection again. Changes others make to those files while you’re offline will be automatically updated once you’re connected again.
This feature is available now on Android for Office 365 Personal and Home subscribers and OneDrive business accounts. iOS users will receive the update in a few months.
However, iOS users can today use OneDrive with iMessage. You can share an entire folder or file directly within the iMessage interface. These documents and photos can also be instantly previewed here, through this new integration.

Skype at Build 2017

Skype brings developers and consumers closer together at Build 2017

As written on
At last year’s Microsoft Build conference, Satya Nadella announced Skype’s leap into the world of conversational computing, officially opening up the Skype platform with the debut of Skype chat bots—intelligent helpers you can add directly into your chats to make life more productive and fun.
We’ve learned a lot in the past year, and have been taking feedback from our great bot partners, hackathons, and online communities to make Skype the best possible experience for both consumers and developers.
This year at Microsoft Build 2017, we are thrilled to take things even further, evolving Skype as a platform for bots to a fully extensible and open platform for developers to integrate their technologies in order to build great conversational experiences.

What’s New

Evolve – Skype Bots are evolving: This time last year, we announced the first preview chat and calling bots available on Skype. Since then, the capabilities and intelligent APIs have evolved tremendously to enable a blend of natural language and rich GUI interactions. Bots can chat in both 1:1 and group conversations, and can use video and audio cards with quick actions to guide the conversation. And today we announced our real-time video SDK preview for enabling interactive video experiences.
Expand – Talking video bots: These new bots can now be a direct participant in 1:1 or group Skype video calls using the real-time media platform for bots being released in preview. This platform provides real-time, voice and video streams of a Skype call which allows developers to build personal, immersive communications experiences with services and brands. Developers can now use their creative talents to create engaging, entertainment, and educational assistance bots with rich and interactive media content built into the experience.
Extend – You can now build your service directly into Skype: In the next few months we’ll be rolling out Skype Add-ins, a new feature to make it easier for developers to integrate their applications into 1:1 and group conversations. Developers can build on their existing web investments and provide consumers unique ways of bringing experiences into their Skype conversations without leaving the app.
Embed – Bring Skype chat to any website: Another new feature, Skype Web Control, lets developers bring the Skype chat canvas onto any website with only two lines of code. Web Control works with both bots and real Skype accounts, meaning you can easily chat with a bot, business, or individual from any web-control enabled website without needing to sign into Skype. And if you are a business owner or independent developer, you can easily use web control to plug your relevant Skype chat window into Bing to maximize exposure.
Monetize – Bot Payments: Now, as a developer, you can easily enable payments in your bot through the Microsoft Bot Framework, allowing consumers to make purchases directly in a Skype Bot chat, with the security of Microsoft Checkout, giving consumers the power to purchase directly through a bot without switching apps.
Grow – More surfaces for Skype: We’re also happy to share that Skype calling will be available on the Harmon Kardon Invoke, with voice activated commands that enable users to call individual contacts, businesses, or even communicate directly with talking bots, meaning your Skype experience can extend further than ever before. Stay tuned for more to come in this space in the near future!
This past year has been a fantastic learning experience for all of us as Skype and we strive to enable the best conversational experiences that help people be more connected to the things they care about, and more productive in their daily lives. We’re excited to continue to evolve the Skype platform into the best canvas for communication powered experiences. In addition to building more intelligent bots, developers can now also extend the power of the Skype canvas with Add-ins and even embed Skype directly on their website. Whatever your scenario, we want to help developers create the optimal experience across the entirety of a conversations, empowering them to surprise and delight consumers in the process.

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