Microsoft has announced an HTML5 version of its SkyDrive online storage system, boasting that the new service is faster, easier to navigate and makes your photos more beautiful.

With the major companies all looking to the cloud, Microsoft is keen to make the most of its existing online strengths, including its well received SkyDrive storage solution.

An HTML5 version is in keeping with its push towards the web standard, and allows the browser to take advantage of hardware acceleration to speed up its offering.

Time-saving

"Common tasks and scenarios, like clicking on folders and navigating photo albums will go from 6-9 seconds down to 100-300 milliseconds," explained Microsoft in a blog post.

"We took advantage of hardware accelerated graphics, advancements like HTML5 video tag to support playback of H.264 videos (with support for files of up to 100 MB).

The HTML5 SkyDrive also brings a new UI which lays out your contents in one view, and which takes styling from Hotmail.

Last, but not least for many, SkyDrive also "gets the chrome out of the way" (an interesting turn of phrase, given Microsoft's rival) to let your photo fill the browser.

"We added tasteful animation using CSS3 that brings photos to life and presents them in their original aspect ratio, and with the new best fit grid your pictures are laid out so you can see them all, even panoramas," adds Microsoft.

"We no longer have pages in the photo viewing experience; you just scroll the page and quickly see your photos fill in. It looks and feels like a native application."

To learn more about SkyDrive and all that it can do, point your browser to: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-skydrive.