Microsoft Tackles the File Attachment Problem

Tired of dealing with attachments and the risks associated with them? Microsoft is offering its own fix via SkyDrive.

Attachments, like meetings, annual reviews and certain managers, are a nuisance reality of the workplace we all have to deal with. They carry with them a number of issues: clogging up or choking e-mail, malware, and version control. So Microsoft is offering its own fix to the problem via SkyDrive.

The company notes that the average office worker receives over 170 e-mail messages a day and sends over 35, and a lot of them have attachments. In Hotmail alone, there are more than 1 billion e-mail messages sent with file attachments per week, and if you remember the Hotmail of old, a lot of that was malware.

The company notes four instances where sending files as e-mail attachments are really impractical: 1) Working together on a document; 2) Sharing and publishing files, since this often entails sending files over and over again; 3) Sending large files; 4) Making notes and files available anywhere, anytime, across devices.

Then there's the malware issue. It either arrives in your inbox from an outside source that somehow obtained your e-mail address, or you get infected and it uses your address book for propagation. Conventional wisdom is you should never open an attachment from an unknown source, but even the known sources are dodgy.

So, Microsoft is offering its SkyDrive cloud service as a workaround and featuring a memorable domain name: Microsoft notes people don't take advantage of this service, even though it's offered, so it's taking two steps to make file sharing via SkyDrive easier.

First, it's connecting SkyDrive to Webmail programs. Not just Hotmail but Gmail as well. Hotmail will have its advantages for being a Microsoft product, of course, such as configuring Hotmail to always send files using SkyDrive by default.

The other step is to make it easy for other apps and services to work with SkyDrive. One example is the SkyDrive Gadget by Xobni (no, I don't know how to pronounce it, either), which was released today. Xobni for Outlook can mail a link to a file on SkyDrive without leaving Outlook up upload the file or you can send someone a file on Skydrive from Outlook without having to leave it.

There's also the Windows Live Mesh option, which will sync any folder between PCs or Macs and your SkyDrive storage, but that option has been available for some time.

SkyDrive continues to get a lot of support from Microsoft. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced the availability of OneNote for Android to access to your notes on SkyDrive. The app offers key OneNote features like checklists, image capture, table editing and support for hyperlinks.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.