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Internet users are two-timers

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A newly released Microsoft MSN poll has revealed that more than half of average Internet using consumers use more than one computing device every day – and are increasingly turning to the cloud to help access and share their important files.

The poll, which drew from more than 10 500 respondents in 15 countries, including South Africa, showed that 56% of respondents use at least two devices everyday (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone) to access their files, and almost one-third (28 percent) use three or more devices on a daily basis.

In this multi-device world, 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 percent citing photo sharing as being at the top of their list. Consumers also use the cloud to share documents, spreadsheets and presentations with friends, family and/or work colleagues from smartphones, PCs and tablets.

‚”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,‚” said Colin Erasmus, Windows Client Business Group Executive at Microsoft South Africa. ‚”No matter what device you’re using – your phone, iPad, a friend’s computer, a PC or a Mac, services like SkyDrive keep you constantly connected to the files you need.‚”

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%).

Interestingly, when asked what they would pay if their digital photos were held for ransom, 44% of South African respondents said ‚”nothing‚” while 12% said they would pay R5 000, or more!

Personal PCs and laptops 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 9%.

Erasmus believes South Africans are still early in consumers’ adoption of cloud storage. ‚”Our past research shows that even amongst people who use the cloud, the files stored in the cloud are small compared to what’s stored on the PC: 22 percent of the photos people have on their PC are stored online, and only one percent of documents. It’s important that we make it simple for anyone to store and access files with the cloud.‚”

The poll also revealed that the number-one concern consumers have about the cloud is privacy, closely followed by security.

‚”Consumers can feel confident about using services like SkyDrive, as they offer security features including encryption of your files when you upload or download them, and makes it easy to control who has access to the files you store,‚” said Erasmus.

The New SkyDrive

Microsoft has announced improvements to SkyDrive which make it easier for consumers to save, share and access their files, anytime, anywhere:

¬∑ 7GB of free storage for your files that’s up to 20 000 docs or 7 000 photos expandable if you need more

¬∑ With SkyDrive.com it’s easy to store any file and access it from virtually any browser across PCs or Macs

· Access your files via the browser of any smartphone or use the free updated SkyDrive app for Windows Phone 7.5 and iPhone

¬∑ Via the SkyDrive app, ‚”Fetch‚” lets you get files from your home PC’s hard drive regardless of where you are

· SkyDrive is the only cloud service that lets you view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents at no cost, and without converting files or destroying your formatting

The survey was conducted via MSN in 15 EMEA markets: Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Russia and South Africa. There were 10,544 total respondents across all markets.

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