Microsoft might be making it cheap to get online storage by announcing a plan that gives you 200GB of SkyDrive space for $100 a year, but it still doesn’t want to tax your physical hard drive. With Windows 8.1, SkyDrive will be rolling out “smart files”, previously called placeholder files, complete with Bing-powered OCR search.
Optical Character Recognition, which Microsoft revealed at the end of August, will be baked into the OS in Bing Smart Search when SkyDrive is hooked up to your Camera Roll. This feature basically reads text in a photograph and captures it, so when you search for that text, you are able to find the photo.
“For example, you might have taken a photo six months ago of the menu of your favourite restaurant, but can’t remember where it’s buried in your Camera Roll and want to remember the dish you had. You can simply type in the restaurant name on your desktop and Bing Smart Search will search text of your Camera Roll photos and pull up the picture of the menu with the restaurant name printed on it,” said Mona Akmal, Group Program Manager, SkyDrive apps.
Smart files allows for this to work even if your Camera Roll is online-only access. These are essentially shrunken placeholders of regular files you have uploaded to the cloud. The idea behind it is that you don’t need easy offline access to every single file you upload on your SkyDrive, so it doesn’t make sense to download them all on every tablet or computer you have. So in the above example, the moment you open the photo, it will be instantaneously pulled from the cloud for you to view the full version.
Windows 8.1 will be released on October 18 as a free update to existing Windows 8 users, but can also be purchased at various price points.
Source: Inside SkyDrive Blog