Microsoft Improves SkyDrive but Will Change the Name

Microsoft has improved its SkyDrive cloud-based storage and collaboration resource, but it also will be dropping the SkyDrive name following a legal dispute.

Microsoft settled for undisclosed terms with British Sky Broadcasting Group after losing a trademark infringement case concerning the use of the SkyDrive product name. Microsoft will stop using the SkyDrive name after "a reasonable period of time" to establish a new brand name, according to a jointly issued press release (see sidebar below). The case applied to Europe and the United Kingdom and stemmed from a complaint heard one year ago in the England and Wales High Court, according to a ZDNet account. The British Sky Broadcasting Group had appended the Sky name to a number of different products, including its "Sky Store & Share" service.

The dispute echoes Microsoft's dropping of the "Metro" name used to describe one side of its Windows 8 user interface. Microsoft had maintained that Metro was just a code name, and it subsequently replaced it with the "Windows Store App" name (sometimes also called "modern UI" by Microsoft). However, a rumor circulated last year that Microsoft dropped the Metro name after a dispute with German retailer Metro AG. However, neither Microsoft nor Metro AG confirmed that rumor.

In any case, Microsoft this week announced some improvements to SkyDrive that are starting to add basic functionality to its storage and collaboration service. The improvements, which are currently available to SkyDrive users, include new device DPI scaling support for viewing photos (which depends on the browser supporting the feature), the ability to run animated GIFs on SkyDrive, new file and folder filtering capabilities that enable portions of folders to be shared with others, as well as a new "shared view" feature that lets SkyDrive users see what they have shared and what others have shared with them.

Probably the most important feature for developers and IT pros is the ability to save documents in code formats and in plain text (.TXT) files. Supported code file formats include CSS, HTML and JavaScript.

It's now possible to use SkyDrive not only to store such code files, but also to collaborate with others on the code snippets. SkyDrive supports code completion suggestions ("autocomplete") when editing stored or shared code. Code hints are available when hovering over portions of code. The find-and-replace command works for code or text files. When a code file or text file gets shared with others in a collaboration scenario, it's possible to compare the changes that were made and spot any conflicts. Those capabilities are demonstrated by Greg Edmiston of the SkyDrive team in this 17-minute Microsoft Channel 9 video.

Microsoft's announcement also suggests that the new SkyDrive can be used to store "registry keys and CMD files."

Lastly, Microsoft improved SkyDrive to allow recipients of a shared file to edit it without signing in. That collaboration capability extends to other files than just Word files now.

SkyDrive, in addition to providing cloud-based storage space, provides access to browser-based versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint. The consumer version is offered at no cost, with free access to 7 GB of storage, although Microsoft charges for storage if additional space is wanted.

Microsoft also has a SkyDrive Pro service designed for use by organizations, which is typically offered at cost through Microsoft's Office 365 service plans. Although the press release didn't indicate it, it's likely that the SkyDrive Pro name also will have to be changed. SkyDrive Pro is a SharePoint implementation, so adding the SharePoint name to it has been one suggestion floating out there.

British Sky Broadcasting and Microsoft Reach Settlement in Trade Mark Case

Sky allows Microsoft temporary use of SkyDrive name during transition period following trade mark infringement judgement - while Microsoft agree to forego planned appeal British Sky Broadcasting Group plc ("Sky") and Microsoft Corporation ("Microsoft") have today announced the settlement of trade mark infringement proceedings in the European Union brought by Sky against Microsoft in the English High Court. The settlement of this case reflects the desire of both companies to focus on joint projects to benefit their customers.

In June, High Court Judge Mrs Justice Asplin issued a judgment holding that Microsoft's use of the name SkyDrive infringed Sky's rights in the 'Sky' mark.

According to the settlement, Microsoft will not pursue its planned appeal of this decision and Sky will allow Microsoft to continue using the SkyDrive name for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand. The agreement also contains financial and other terms, the details of which are confidential.

"We are pleased to have reached a settlement after Microsoft agreed not to appeal the trade mark infringement judgment in relation to its SkyDrive service," said Sky. "We will remain vigilant in protecting the Sky brand and will continue to take appropriate action against those companies who seek to use our trade mark without consent."

Microsoft said, "We're glad to have resolution of this naming dispute, and will continue to deliver the great service our hundreds of millions of customers expect, providing the best way to always have your files with you."

Sidebar: Press release issued by British Sky Broadcasting Group plc and Microsoft. Source: Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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