SkyDrive Pro naming quandary and the mess of MS file sync products

Today Mary Jo Foley wrote a piece about Microsoft losing the fight with British Sky Broadcasting Group over the name SkyDrive and in particular (as I understand it) in the “Sky” part of that.

Microsoft to rebrand SkyDrive after losing trademark skirmish – Mary Jo Foley – ZD Net

In that article she also mentions that this will likely effect the SkyDrive Pro product naming also.  Which perked my ears up given its SharePoint linkage.

I never liked the SkyDrive Pro name.  Why?  Primarily because it makes it sound like it has something to do with SkyDrive and cloud storage.  When in reality you can use SkyDrive Pro to sync files from your on-prem SharePoint system … which doesn’t feel particularly “Sky” or “Cloudy” to me!  It just confuses everyone I speak with.

I can see what Microsoft were trying to achieve with regards to Office 365 and syncing files … it makes a little more sense in that regard.  However, I always had a problem with it “hooking” on to the consumer brand of SkyDrive. They are 100% totally separate products, no technical similarities etc… The only similarity is that they sync files to your PC from somewhere.

I actually think having to rename SkyDrive is a blessing in disguise for Microsoft.

Now is the perfect time to get it right and clear up all the confusion!

To make naming and technology matters worse Windows Server 2012 R2 is introducing a feature called “Work Folders” which enables access to on-prem file shares remotely. The reason being that 1000s of customers have files in shares and will continue to do so & therefore it would be good to have access to those remotely.  You can read about Work Folders here: Introducing Work Folders on Windows Server 2012 R2  It’s actually a pretty nifty solution.

SO!  Now we currently have:

  • SkyDrive Pro – which allows you to sync files from Office 365 and from SharePoint on-prem.
  • Work Folders – which allows you to access files from file shares on-prem.

Do you see where I am going with this?

Wouldn’t it be sensible for Microsoft to release ONE Enterprise grade file sync/access tool that let you access files from Office 365, SharePoint on-prem and file shares on-prem?

I call it “Files”.  Users would never see that name however as it would show up branded/renamed in Explorer, iOS, Windows 8 and Windows Phone using the organizations logo and name e.g. “Contoso Files”.

Currently here is what i see in Explorer:


Here is what I want to see in Explorer:


In that one location you would see a list of “folders” that either belong in SharePoint on-prem, Office 365 or Work Folders (file shares on prem).


Is this really too much to ask for?

I don’t think so 🙂

With branding up in the air it would be a good time to strike and fix the mess up. However, I suspect it will take a while for this to happen and we are likely to see a name change first in the coming weeks/month (after all its a Select All replace right?! :)) and a consolidated product down the line (all fingers crossed).

What do you think should happen? or what would you like to see from Microsoft to make your file sync and management simpler?


5 thoughts on “SkyDrive Pro naming quandary and the mess of MS file sync products

  1. Chris

    Yep, totally agree with this. Completely confusing for anyone who does not closely follow what MS are up to.

    However, I think the likelihood of this actually happening is remote, given the way MS operates. I would love to be proved wrong.

  2. Wes Hackett

    I think the idea you’re proposing would actually make a huge amount of sense to the average end user. Everyone I try and explain SkyDrive Pro too ends up more confused, especially with the navigation item in the suite bar and applications installed. They just don’t understand it. Worse still it has driven many onto dropbox which is easier to understand.

  3. Janine

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the clever analysis of Microsoft’s silo-ed file share and sync offerings. There is currently one elegant, enterprise grade file sync/access tool that let you access files from Office 365, SharePoint on-prem and NFS. There are workspaces (or work folders), lovely native mobile apps, and a host of other handy features. It’s called Accellion (full disclosure: I work there).


  4. Spence

    the naming is clearly a complete shambles of their own making, but as important as the name is the functionality. sure they fix up the silliness, but how about bringing back being able to share files between different users computers without having to go via a web browser!! like the stuff they had but killed leaving other vendors the chance to eat their lunch


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