SkyDrive smart files will be searchable with Windows 8.1

Back in July, the SkyDrive team introduced us to placeholder files, or “smart files”, basically image and document thumbnails which show you what’s on your online SkyDrive without actually saving a copy of the entire file on your hard drive. Smart files make syncing and storing files easier, and can be essential when using a low storage capacity tablet like the Surface RT I’m using, allowing you to see what’s on your SkyDrive but not using up precious disc space.

Today, in a blog post on the Inside SkyDrive blog, Mona Akmal (a recent “Geek of the Week” over at GeekWire) reviews the concept of “smart files”, and announces that they will soon be searchable from within Windows 8.1’s Smart Search, including text within images extracted with Bing-powered OCR:

For example, you might have taken a photo 6 months ago of the menu of your favorite 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. With the power of smart files, this will work even if your Camera Roll is marked for online-only access. The moment you open the photo, it will be instantaneously pulled from the cloud for you to view the full version.

You can learn more on SkyDrive and smart files on the blog post, which includes a couple of Channel 9 videos (with SkyDrive Development Manager Adam Czeisler and SkyDrive Product Marketing Manager Jamie Papin-Wynne), explaining more about smart files and extracted OCR.

Afraid there’s still no word on any rebrand of SkyDrive, the term still seems to be in full use and continues to be marketed. Apparently the guys at BskyB have a bit to learn on what “a reasonable period of time” means to Microsoft!