Microsoft has released the results of its latest MSN poll, which showed that over half of average internet-using consumers use more than one computing device daily and that these users are increasingly turning to the cloud to help them access and share important files.
This poll drew from north of 10 500 respondents in 15 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) countries including South Africa. It revealed that 56% of respondents use at least two devices every day including their PC, notebook, tablet and smartphone, to access their files. Nearly one-third (28%) use three or more devices on a daily basis.
Cloud = accessibility + portability
According to Microsoft the number one reason consumers are turning to the cloud is to ensure they have easy access to important files across devices or on-the-go, with 58% citing photo sharing as being their most utilised cloud-based service. Consumers also use the cloud to share documents, spreadsheets and presentations with colleagues and clients via their smartphones, PCs and tablets.
Overall, about 40% of respondents store files online as they “like being able to easily access things when they are on the go/across devices”, followed by “not have to worry about losing data if PC/laptop were lost/stolen/crashed” (34%) and “easier to share things with friends, family and /or work colleagues” (32%).
A few locally relevant results
Interestingly, the Redmond-based software giant also asked what users would pay if their digital photos were being held for ransom. Almost half (44%) of South African respondents said “nothing”, whilst 12% said they would fork out a whopping R5000 or more.
Personal PCs and notebooks remain the top devices being used by South African respondents every day (42% and 41% respectively) to access videos, pictures, school projects and work files. However, smartphones are close behind (39%), with work PCs being used by 31% of respondents and tablets by only 9%.
South Africans still in the early phase
Colin Erasmus, Windows Client business group executive at Microsoft South Africa, is of the opinion that South Africans are still in the early phase of consumer adoption of cloud storage.
Erasmus stated that Microsoft’s past research indicated that even amongst people who use the cloud, the amount of files stored in the cloud are small compared to what’s stored on their PC. Around 22% of the photos people have on their PC along with only 1% of their documents are stored online.
The poll also revealed that the main concern consumers have about the cloud is privacy, closely followed by security. Microsoft asserted that consumers can feel confident about using services the likes of SkyDrive, as these offer security features such as encryption of their files when they upload or download them, and makes it easy for them to control who has access to these files.
Redmond’s new SkyDrive
The software company has recently made a number of improvements to SkyDrive including:
- 7 GB of free storage for documents and multimedia files – this equates to up to 20 000 documents or 7000 photos.
- Via the SkyDrive app, the “Fetch” feature enables users to access files from their home PC’s hard-drive.
- SkyDrive is the only cloud service that allows users to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents for free, and without having to convert files or altering users’ formatting.
“These days people are juggling multiple devices and need easy access to their files, and services like Microsoft’s SkyDrive allows them to get what they need, when they need it. No matter what device you’re using - your phone
, a friend’s computer, a PC or a Mac
, services like SkyDrive keep you constantly connected to the files you need,” stated Erasmus.
In related news, Microsoft also recently announced
its Q4 and full year financial results, which saw the company posting a record quarterly revenue of $18.06 billion. This is up from Q4 2011’s $17.37 billion, but operating income for the quarter was just $192 million, compared to $6.2 billion the previous year.