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Thursday, April 20, 2006

GDrive, Live Drive, vapour ware...

Google managed to (accidently?) release some info about "GDrive" (i.e. it mentioned the name, and nothing else). Now Microsoft has come up with "Live Drive". Yahoo already has its bulky and limited Briefcase.

Will these materialise? Will they be any good? What would they need to do to be good?

My ideal would be to browse to an online file storage website on any computer (or mobile device), and then magically have a "virtual drive" accessible to any apps running on that computer, which I could open from and save to as easily as if it were a local drive.

Omnidrive, which thanks to Tony I've been using via the private beta, could well become that solution. However the decision not to launch a public beta was almost certainly the right one - Omnidrive is still quite rough around the edges. I've submitted a ton of bug reports and Tony has been in touch, so I'm expecting things to improve.

One great example of Omnidrive's potential has been on my work computers: just as described above, I log in to the web interface and then open a document in Office 2003, and edit and save it to my Omnidrive as if it were local. But for some reason, that doesn't work on my home PC - any given file just loads as "read-only", and if I try to save it, it ends up in some local cache.

Omnidrive reminds me of Zooomr: a lot of potential not quite realised yet. But it's a much better solution than anything else out there: box.net has a slow, clunky interface (little better than Yahoo Briefcase, just prettier), and GDrive and Live Drive don't actually exist :-).

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