Microsoft Speeding Up SkyDrive on the Client Side
Microsoft on Thursday described in greater detail how it has optimized Windows Live SkyDrive, which is the company's free cloud-based storage and file-sharing service for consumers.
For accessing user data, Microsoft's new SkyDrive architecture uses a protocol based on HTTP and JSON, which filters some data for caching on the client side. The Microsoft team is currently trying to make this approach "work well across all of the major browsers," Bailey said. He added that the data format approach in JSON "is network efficient, and browsers can cache it really fast." Microsoft previously used a method that pulled a bunch of data from SQL Server and ran it though ASP.NET servers before delivering the data to the client, Bailey explained, but that server-intensive approach was less efficient.
SkyDrive also supports "virtualized list views," which will pull only the data or HTML that's needed for a current view in a browser. This technology will work as the user scrolls through lists on the screen by "dynamically fetching data and rendering the list view," Bailey stated.
SkyDrive is turning out to be a prominent part of Microsoft's connected devices architectural approach on the consumer side of its general cloud computing push. For instance, the "Mango" update to the Windows Phone 7 operating system, planned for this fall, will add SkyDrive access for smartphones, allowing photo storage and file sharing via Microsoft's cloud. According to Bailey, Microsoft reuses its SkyDrive code between the PC and mobile SkyDrive views, so users get performance improvements across both devices.
SkyDrive also serves as a hub for document sharing using Microsoft Office Web Apps, which are free for use by consumers but not so for organizations. Earlier this month Microsoft enabled Word Web App coauthoring for SkyDrive users. Real-time collaboration is currently possible using the OneNote Web App over SkyDrive. In addition, simultaneous editing is possible using the Excel Web App via SkyDrive.
Office Web Apps are still limited compared with their full-featured Microsoft Office cousins, but Microsoft has been slowly adding improvements.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.