Microsoft on Monday announced new features and improvements for its SkyDrive cloud storage service, with a particular focus on photos. The updates are available starting now, but you may not see them for up to 48 hours as the company rolls them out gradually.

Arguably the biggest new feature is the new photos timeline view. The main idea here is to give you a way to see all your SkyDrive photos across all your albums and folders based on when they were taken.

Here’s what it looks like in action (you can navigate to a specific month just by clicking on its name):

SkyDrive-timeline-view_5F410748

To navigate through all the images, which are organized into groups by event and time, all you have to do is scroll. This view is available from your browser, though we presume Microsoft will eventually offer it in SkyDrive apps going forward.

There’s also a new filmstrip view, which lets you breeze through photos in a slide show:

SkyDrive-filmstrip-view_6A4A45F8

Last but not least, the thumbnails view has been tweaked. Microsoft has also introduced new thumbnails for PowerPoint and Word files:

PowerPoint-and-Word-thumbnails_0AC15FDE

User interface changes aside, Microsoft has improved the performance of photo uploads to SkyDrive. The company tweaked both the SkyDrive desktop app and its server code to improve upload times by two to three times. These are based on the company’s internal tests, so expect your mileage to vary.

Last but not least, on Thursday Microsoft finally turned on Windows Phone 8 full-resolution camera upload for all available markets. This is for both photos and videos, and means Windows Phone users can have a complete backup of all the photos they take in their SkyDrive camera roll.

Microsoft is facing increased competition from the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive. Focusing on photos is key in the cloud storage race, as users seem most interested in using such services to store and share all their snaps.

See also – Microsoft’s SkyDrive passes 250m users, adding 50m since the launch of Windows 8 seven months ago

Top Image Credit: Asif Akbar