Earlier, we talked about the new SkyDrive in the upcoming Windows 8.1, and noted Microsoft’s clever use of something called ‘placeholder files’, now known as ‘smart files’. Along with smart thumbnails, they allow your SkyDrive files to take up just a fraction of their original size (less than 5%, in most cases) on the local drive.
Since then, more features are added to SkyDrive. In August, Microsoft added Bing-powered OCR (optical character recognition) to photos on SkyDrive, but it only lets you see the extracted text when you browse the photos on SkyDrive.com. Now, Microsoft has announced that in Windows 8.1, you can search for them directly on the desktop through Bing Smart Search - yes, even for smart files. So for example, if you’ve taken a photo of a restaurant menu months ago and now want to take a look at it again, you can search for the restaurant name (if it’s also captured in the photo) or the name of one dish you remember. Bing Smart Search is able to perform an OCR search and pull up the photo. If your camera roll is marked for online-only access, when you open the photo, it will be pulled from the cloud for you to view the full version.
Windows 8.1 is slated to arrive on the Windows Store for current Windows 8 and RT users in the evening of October 17. Retail copies will go on sale (prices here) along with new devices preloaded with it on October 18.