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    Last week Google launched its new online storage and sharing program, Google Drive. Gmail users can now install a piece of free software on any device running Windows, Mac OS X, Android and (soon) iOS. That device will then get a special Google Drive folder that synchronizes automatically with an online mirror.

    knockoff or knockout?

    Dropbox has been around for quite a while and Microsoft recently scaled up its long-neglected SkyDrive to include additional payment tiers and support mobile devices. Google Drive might seem late in the game, but as usual the web giant is working hard to stand out from the rest of the pack.

    Google Drive isn’t just a Dropbox counterfeit, it’s new face of Google Docs. In an effort to pull users away from Microsoft towards the web -based office software, Google is hoping that new users for Google Drive will stick around and use Google Docs.  Documents created through Docs won’t count towards your Drive storage quota, but all uploaded files are fair game for Google’s data-extraction technology.

    Let’s take a look at what you get, using information provided by Geek.com. New users receive 5GB of free storage on Google Drive, compared to 2GB for Dropbox and a whopping 7GB from SkyDrive. Google drive is also right in the middle in regards to pricing for additional storage, however, upgrading to any paid account will reward you with extra Gmail storage.

    paradigm shift

    It’s a pretty big swing for Google to move from advertising to paid subscriptions. So, does this represent a fundamental change in how Google creates revenue, or just a foray into unfamiliar territory to head off efforts by Microsoft? Either way, users have nothing to lose at the moment, and a lot to gain. Both Google and Microsoft have drastically undercut the prices that Dropbox offers for additional storage. My hope is that with stiff competition between multiple big players, prices will fall and features skyrocket. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

    Which to choose?

    Stephen Shankland of cnet.com has the best answer: “Heck, use ‘em all!” With a combined free storage quota of over 10GB and a little organization on the part of the user, there doesn’t have to be any reason to choose just one.