After seeing the commercials on TV, several folks have asked me for more information about "the cloud" ... specifically, what is it and can it help them?
The "cloud" is it is commonly called, is the internet. The goal of "the cloud" is to make it easier for people (mainly businesses) to work on and share files. From a business perspective, multiple users can access the same file (because it's stored on a server) through the internet. They can work on it and share it with co-workers because they too have access to "the cloud".
Google Docs can be considered in the cloud because Google offers a central location where people can create various documents (comparable to Microsoft office documents) online and share them with others. These documents can be private, shared with people you choose, or made public (for web sharing). Folks just need a Google account (which is free) to use Google Docs.
I use Google's Calendar on one of my websites as a means of sharing trout fishing events around the world. The calendar is public so anybody can see it. The cool thing is that I add events to my calendar (through my Google account) and the changes automatically appear on my web site. If I wanted to, I could make the calendar private and grant access to a few people so only we could see and edit it.
So while the benefits of using the cloud for businesses may seem clear, many wonder if the cloud can help the average home computer user ,,, which is a good question.
Microsoft touts that Windows 7 gives home users access to "the cloud" as a means of sharing photos, movies, and office docs. For most home users, sharing office docs may not be the top priority. But sharing photos and movies can be useful.
Windows 7 comes with a program called, Windows Live Gallery. This program is a tool to view and arrange photo... and it has built in social sharing buttons. To learn more about Windows Live Gallery and sharing photos, click here.
Windows Vista users can download Windows Live Essential to accomplish the same thing. If you'd like to give Microsoft's cloud a try, click here.