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Windows 8 brings integrated cloud storage

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft shows strong support for integration.

The cloud industry has been pushing for even more interconnectedness as the number of devices the average person has escalates. While most providers can tout hardware agnosticism, Microsoft recently took that a step further with its release of Windows 8 by integrating cloud storage with its new operating system.

"Microsoft's cloud service has been in business since late 2007, but now its app lives front and center on the Windows Start screen, and it's built to integrate with other Microsoft software and hardware," wrote PCWorld columnist Alex Wawro. "SkyDrive offers features and pricing plans that rival established cloud storage services like Dropbox and Box."

In addition to praising the OS for supporting a range of hardware, Wawro commended Windows 8 for being relatively platform agnostic. It allows users to access SkyDrive from Android and iOS. However, integration with Microsoft services such as Office offers additional benefits for Windows users.

Integration and data security
Many technology experts have commended the level of integration that has come with Windows 8. It's easy to see the advantages of a platform that maintains consistency of a Word document across desktop and mobile devices. However, it has also created security concerns. As TechTarget writer Robert Sheldon noted in October, a user's Microsoft account credentials have become more than a gateway to one machine.

"The Microsoft account has local administrative privileges to a Windows 8 computer, which means the account can access any files on the machine, including those in other users' directories," Sheldon wrote. "The account even has access to offline Active Directory accounts stored as hashes in the machine's cache. Of course, this is not new to Windows 8, but the question remains whether a Web-based account adds another level of risk, especially given the support for fetching."

As consumers and businesses transition to an always connected world, security is likely to be front of mind for many cloud users. Solution providers will need to adopt strong security stances to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access and data leaks.