When we designed SkyDrive for Windows 8.1, we thought a lot about how storage needs are growing much faster than device hard drives. So we invented smart files, which allow you to have your files always with you while being unconstrained by storage capacity.
In the Windows 8.1 preview we saw consumers using SkyDrive in two distinct ways. The first group of people are very conscious of what they have saved to disk and most of their files are online-only. We found that the majority of people using smart files take up 80% less disk space than they would without smart files. The second group of people are on the other end of the spectrum: they explicitly chose to have all their files available offline, and so have their entire SkyDrive stored locally. This showed us that users understand smart files and are tailoring the feature to their needs.
Although smart files are a fraction of their original size, they behave identically to any other file. A great example of this is how smart files show up in Bing Smart Search in Windows 8.1. This feature, which is rolling out over the coming weeks, allows you to search from the desktop for the content of Camera Roll photos that have had text extracted from them.
For example, you might have taken a photo 6 months ago of the menu of your favorite restaurant, but can’t remember where it’s buried in your Camera Roll and want to remember the dish you had. You can simply type in the restaurant name on your desktop and Bing Smart Search will search text of your Camera Roll photos and pull up the picture of the menu with the restaurant name printed on it. With the power of smart files, this will work even if your Camera Roll is marked for online-only access. The moment you open the photo, it will be instantaneously pulled from the cloud for you to view the full version.
People are starting to take photos not only to capture special moments, but also to keep track of everyday information, so we are really excited about this scenario and proud to unveil this valuable OCR search feature.
Just weeks away from the general availability of Windows 8.1, we’re very excited to not only continue allowing you to have your files always with you, but to make your files smarter.
Group Program Manager, SkyDrive apps