Among the many apps making their way these days to Microsoft’s Xbox Live, none is more foreign to the gaming platform, and yet potentially more far-reaching, than Microsoft’s own SkyDrive, now available in the Xbox app store.
The good news: SkyDrive users have full access to all the files, photos, music and videos stored in their free cloud-based account.
The bad news? You can only open the photo and video files. Your Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDFs won’t open. All you see is an indication that the files are there. There appear to be no Office apps available, not even the rudimentary ones found on the Internet version of SkyDrive. So while you now have SkyDrive on Xbox, there’s precious little you can do with it when it comes to viewing them. And forget about editing.
Pictures and video are somewhat of a different story. JPEG photos can be viewed individually or as a slide show. We uploaded video files in MPEG-4 and MOV formats, but only the MPEG-4 clip worked. Nor will music files play: we checked both MPEG-3 and WAV samples (The video and music issues, however, appears to be an overall SkyDrive issue. Currently, the MOV file wouldn’t play from SkyDrive on a Windows 7 computer, and the music files can only be downloaded.)
The appearance of SkyDrive on Xbox augers well for its future as a viable center of all digital activity—at least one can infer that. With Internet Explorer already on the Xbox platform, SkyDrive become yet another indication that Microsoft may well be chasing the same dream as Google TV, which offers video and Internet content, and includes a browser. What Google TV offers now, however, is the Android system including the ability to access your documents and edit them on screen. Microsoft won’t let you see your document content, little alone edit them. (Google Drive on Google TV still has a few kinks compared to the desktop version, but it does work.)
So what is Microsoft thinking? This is the first iteration of SkyDrive on the Xbox, and as a proof of concept it rocks. And since keyboards can be used with the Xbox, full digital home center functionality is well within the range of possibility. But unless Microsoft gives SkyDrive the capacity to preview and possibly edit docs, SkyDrive is just a tantalizing curiosity.
Skip Ferderber is a Seattle-area journalist given to fits of joy over technology that makes sense. He is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer, edited Millimeter Magazine in the motion picture and television technology industry, and contributes to Crosscut.com, Seattle Business Magazine, HD Video Pro Magazine and others.