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Google Drive is alive.

The long-rumored online storage service was officially announced today, following an apparent attempt at pre-emption by Microsoft earlier in the week. But in both timing and the wallet, Microsoft SkyDrive may have the advantage.

Not surprisingly, Google Drive is billed as “a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all your work.” Google says it has built Google Docs into Google Drive, allowing commenting on any shared files. Drive also can be installed on Mac and Windows, as an Android phone or tablet app, and Google says the Drive iOS app is in the works. Google search technology — including image recognition — applies across all files stored in Google Drive.

Perhaps of more interest to Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Dropbox and others with competing services is the pricing: 5GB free, 25GB for $2.49/month, or 100GB for $4.99/month. Google Apps for Business customers can purchase each 20GB chunk of extra storage for $4/month, up to a total of 16TB. Google also will, with the introduction of Drive, increase included Gmail storage to 10GB from 7.5GB.

Just yesterday, Microsoft rolled out new paid plans for its SkyDrive online storage service. Both SkyDrive’s free storage and paid plans trump today’s Google Drive announcement with 7GB free, an additional 20GB storage for $10/year, 50GB for $25/year and 100GB for $50/year.

That initially pencils out to a significant price advantage for SkyDrive at lower storage volumes (at least for now), and only if raw online storage is the metric without factoring in what can be done with stored data.

Previously: Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive add new storage features as Google Drive looms

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