There’s been lots and lots of commercials on tv lately from Microsoft beckoning computer users ‘to the Cloud.’ At first, I simply ignored them. But after seeing them over and over, and seeing some of what they claim ‘the Cloud’ can do…ok Microsoft, you caught my interest. Now let’s see what’s this ‘Cloud’ is all about.
When I visited the website shown on the commercial (windows.com/cloud), I was greeted with a warm screen telling me I can create documents, photos and more. I can connect to people and share files with them, any time, anywhere. However, when I clicked ‘To the cloud: Get started’, step one is to get Windows 7. I’ve used Windows 7 in a work environment and found it very aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. However, at home, I’m currently a satisfied Windows XP user without intentions to purchase Windows 7 until I purchase a new pc (at some unknown to myself future date). In small print, I’m told the Cloud services are also available for Windows Vista. Still a disappointment, I’m planning to skip to 7 whenever I do upgrade my pc.
Step two of the process of setting up your Cloud is to download Windows Live Essentials. There is a version of Live Essentials for XP, and you can do some of the same things you could do if you had Windows 7 and the Cloud. The XP version allows you to stay in touch with Mail and Messenger, share and edit photos, and makes it easy to share your thoughts via blog. The Windows 7/Vista version provides those and much more, including MovieMaker and LiveMesh, which gives you the ability to sync photos and documents between computers and SkyDrive. (LiveMesh is an extremely useful tool for anyone on the go who has a need to access files, photos, and documents from different locatios.) The new version also assists in creating Parental Controls to help keep your kids safe when they use the computer.
If you have Windows 7, all you need to do is download and install Live Essentials, and you’re ready to go. If you don’t have Windows 7 – you can still use Live Essentials, but you’ll have far less capabilities. You can always purchase a Windows upgrade, but that may not be something you can or want to do at the moment. And if not, unfortunately you, like me, will not be taking a trip ‘to the Cloud’…at least for the time being.