OneDrive At The Core Of The Windows 8.1 Experience - What Does it Mean?

In Windows 8.1, you don't need to install a desktop client for OneDrive, nor any app from the Store, like you do in Windows 8 or Windows 7. OneDrive is now part of the operating system and sits at the center of your computing experience. What does this mean and what are the consequences of this strong integration? Let's find out in this overview:

OneDrive & Its Strong Integration With Windows 8.1

The deep integration between Windows 8.1 and OneDrive is evident right from the installation stage. During the personalization process, you are informed that "OneDrive is your cloud storage". You are not even asked if you want to use it or not. It's just there and the only thing you can do is turn off OneDrive's default settings. You cannot disable the service itself.

OneDrive will remain inside Windows 8.1, regardless of your choice to turn its default settings On or Off. Furthermore, you will stumble upon OneDrive in many places across Windows 8.1:

First of all, you will see its tile on the Start screen. However, if you don't want to use it, you can always hide it.

Another place where you'll find OneDrive is File Explorer. And this is a section which you cannot hide. If you don't want to see or use it, the only choice you have is to use a local account instead of a Microsoft account. We've explained all the differences between these two account types, here: Should You Use a Local or a Microsoft Account?.

If you will browse to your user folder (found at "C:\Users\Your User Name"), you will find that OneDrive is listed as one of your default folders.

However, local user accounts don't have OneDrive in their list of default user folders.

Last but not least, in Windows 8.1, you will find that OneDrive has its own dedicated section inside PC Settings. Here, you can configure everything related to the way it works.

OneDrive Cannot Be Removed From Windows 8.1

A key aspect is that, unlike other Microsoft products and services included in Windows 8.1 (e.g. Internet Explorer), OneDrive cannot be uninstalled. The only thing about OneDrive with an uninstall option is its modern app. Like it or not, the OneDrive folder will always be found in your user profile and the OneDrive client and synchronization service will always be present in Windows 8.1. And that is true even if you don't use this service.

OneDrive's Default Settings In Windows 8.1

We mentioned earlier that Windows 8.1 only allows you to turn off the default settings used by OneDrive. But which are these settings? Let's cover them one by one:

  • The default saving location for any documents you create in Word, WordPad or other document editing software, will be set to the Documents folder in OneDrive. This is an important change since earlier versions of Windows. By default, Windows 7 and Windows 8 save your documents inside the Documents library. However, if you don't like this new setting, you can disable it and restore the old Windows 7 and Windows 8 behavior.
  • All the pictures from your Camera Roll folder are automatically uploaded to OneDrive. This folder is found in the Pictures library, and it's the place where your Camera app stores your files.
  • Your Windows 8.1 settings are automatically synchronized and backed up using OneDrive.
  • Windows 8.1 will upload and download files to OneDrive even when using metered Internet connections.

What Do You Think About OneDrive's Integration With Windows 8.1?

We like the OneDrive service and use it as the main service for synchronizing files and settings across all our devices. However, this high level of integration with Windows 8.1 slightly worries us. It seems a bit like Microsoft is trying to force users into using it, which might generate some discomfort and problems.

After reading this article, what is your opinion on this subject? Do you think there's too much OneDrive inside Windows 8.1, or are you OK with how deep this service is integrated with the operating system?