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Dropbox Adds To Windows 8 App List

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Dropbox has debuted its official Windows 8 app

Dropbox has added its backing to Windows 8 with an official app, contributing to the small but growing number of applications designed specifically to work with the new operating system’s touch-optimised interface.

The app, which arrives following a preview at Microsoft’s Build developer conference two months ago, is designed to allow users to access their Dropbox files from mobile devices.

Windows 8 integration

It integrates with the Windows 8 interface, allowing users to browse and view files, open, edit and save files from other Windows 8 apps, and search for files and folders using the Windows 8 search charm, or shortcut in the average person’s lexico .

The app supports Windows 8 and Windows RT, the version of the OS tailored for ARM-based mobile devices, and supports Dropbox’s two-factor authentication scheme, the company said.

The app allows files to be accessed directly from Windows 8’s Start screen and displays tiles for all folders and files stored in a user’s online account, including thumbnails for photos.

Integration with the Windows 8 interface means users can share Dropbox files such as photos or documents using the Windows 8 Share shortcut. Dropbox files can be shared via Facebook using Windows 8’s built-in People charm.

Since the app is designed for touch-screen devices, rather than desktops, its features are limited in some ways. For instance, files are only stored locally if the user clicks on them, and locally stored files aren’t accessible via Windows Explorer.

The app also lacks the ability to add new files to a user’s Dropbox account. For these features users will need to continue using Dropbox’s standard Windows desktop application.

Slow growth

Dropbox’s app is a sign of support for Windows 8, which has received mixed reviews and has so far been slow to get off the ground. Earlier this month Net Applications reported that although Windows 8 market share grew to 1.72 percent as of 31 December, this figure is still lower than the 2.2 percent market share held by Windows Vista two months after its release.

A recent survey of 50,000 Windows 8 users by Forumswindows8.com, a Windows 8 help and support site, revealed that more than half still prefer Windows 7 over Windows 8.

Last month Google said it had no plans to offer Windows 8 versions of applications such as Gmail and Google Drive, arguing the OS’ user base is too small to warrant the investment.

Microsoft also offers its own SkyDrive cloud storage app for Windows 8, and has said usage of SkyDrive is growing rapidly. SkyDrive connectors and apps are available for Windows, Windows Phone, Mac, iOS and Android.

Surface boost

Microsoft is trying hard to convince the market to upgrade by offering very reasonable upgrade prices for users upgrading to a newer Microsoft operating system.

Microsoft is also hoping that its Surface tablet offering will convince those thinking of jumping ship into the tablet camp, to remain in the Microsoft fold. But sales of the Surface device remain patchy despite a massive advertising blitz, due to a combination of a modest retail presence for the devices, coupled with what some observers feel is too high a retail price for the machine.

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