Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4959/icloud-on-the-desktop-a-look-at-os-x-1072-and-icloud-for-windows
iCloud on the Desktop: A Look at OS X 10.7.2 and iCloud for Windowsby Andrew Cunningham on October 18, 2011 3:01 AM EST
iCloud is included with the OS X 10.7.2 update, so Lion users out there will be able to pull it down through Software Update if they haven’t already (and even if you don’t intend to use iCloud, 10.7.2 is a major update that purports to fix many problems with the OS). Once you restart, you’re invited to enter or create an AppleID to associate with iCloud, and upon signing in you’ll see the iCloud preference pane for the first time.
There's nothing particularly interesting about the technology behind iCloud - its mail service uses a standard IMAP server, your calendar is hosted on a standard CalDAV server, and your contacts are served up by LDAP - all open and widely supported standards (meaning that, with the proper server configuration, you could get some of your iCloud data syncing with most OSes, albeit without the help of Apple's handy preference pane). As such, your iCloud accounts can easily co-exist alongside other IMAP or Exchange accounts without conflict, and using iCloud-enabled calendars in Mail and iCal feels the same as does with virtually any other service.
Novice users will appreciate the ability to access all of this using a single sign-in, but just about everybody reading this article doubtlessly has a setup that works for them already (Gmail, Dropbox, and Chrome Sync, for myself). There's nothing about these services in iCloud that's compelling enough to make a contented Gmail user switch, and there are indeed some reasons not to, including the fact that email storage space comes out of the same 5GB pool as everything else.
Other iCloud services are of a bit more interest to people who already have email accounts and calendars, though again little of it is truly new. Find My Mac is an extension of the Find My iPhone tool, which can be used to locate, lock, or remotely wipe a misplaced or stolen device - we'll talk about how it works a bit later when we discuss iCloud.com.
Back to My Mac, a MobileMe import, uses OS X’s built in Screen Sharing and FIle Sharing functionality to share the screen and the files of two Macs on two different networks. You can limit or expand its functionality by enabling, disabling, and configuring the Screen Sharing (or Remote Management) and File Sharing services as you see fit - it's one of the few iCloud services that needs some extra configuration after you turn it on. Once you have two Macs connected to an iCloud account with the same Apple ID, they will show up in each others’ Finder sidebars under Shared, which allows for easy screen and/or file sharing based on how you’ve configured them. Back to My Mac uses IPsec to encrypt data sent over the Internet, and uses Kerberos with Digital Certificates for secure authentication.
As on iOS, the main issue with Photo Stream at the moment is that there's no easy way to delete individual photos from iPhoto or from any of your iOS devices at present. Even if you locate and delete the pictures in the filesystem, that still doesn't delete them from all of your devices (though I do think I broke something on my Windows box - after deleting the photos from the filesystem, I couldn't make them download again without completely trashing the iCloud preferences and starting over again).
There are two ways to delete everything: the first is to disable and then re-enable Photo Stream on all of your devices, and the second is to sign into iCloud.com and wipe it all out in the Advanced settings panel. I'm hoping that Apple implements the ability to delete individual photos from Photo Stream soon, because at the moment it seems like a big downside to a pretty useful feature.
iCloud.com is another major piece of the iCloud puzzle. iCloud’s web interface and its associated web apps are a hodgepodge of iOS and OS X design elements - the webmail app is more or less OS X Lion’s Mail.app with iOS Mail’s icons. Pop ups are displayed in iOS-style white-text-on-blue-background boxes. The Contacts web app is likewise a pretty straight port of the Lion version, and the Calendar app is likewise similar. The web interfaces for Contacts and Calendars are, in fact, identical to those that come with Lion Server, though for whatever reason the iCloud web client is much nicer than the bare bones implementation found in Apple’s server OS (I suspect the iCloud webmail client was developed in-house, while Lion Server relies on the open-source Roundcube for webmail and a wide array of other open-source pieces for its backend).
To use the web versions of the iWork apps, you must first install and launch an iCloud-enabled version of either Pages and/or Numbers and/or Keynote - current users of these programs can grab iCloud-enabled updates from the App Store now. Once you've set these programs up to use iCloud, any documents you create in them are automatically stored in iCloud, and can be downloaded from iCloud.com as Pages, Word, or PDF files. You can also upload Pages, Word, and text files for editing on your iCloud-enabled devices (Numbers will let you upload Numbers, Excel, and CSV files, while Keynote lets you upload Keynote, and Powerpoint files).
iCloud for Windows
To get iCloud set up via Outlook, you’ll need to have an Outlook profile created - you just have to launch Outlook once to do this, and you don’t need to have any accounts configured in the client already. If this has been done, clicking the checkboxes in the control panel will set everything up for you automatically.
You can also sync bookmarks, both with Internet Explorer and Safari for Windows 5.1.1 - clicking Options will allow you to choose between the browsers, provided you have both installed.
Photo Stream is available in Windows, which is a nice touch, even if it isn’t as seamless as in its OS X/iOS implementation. By default, it creates a Photo Stream folder in your My Pictures folder. In that folder, there are two additional folders - one for downloading of pictures that are already in your Photo Stream, and one for uploading new pictures into Photo Stream from your PC.
The iCloud control panel, like the preference pane in OS X, will also show you how much storage space each of your devices is taking up, and allows you to purchase more of it if you need it.
The second thing iCloud is trying to do - visible particularly through Documents in the Cloud, iTunes in the Cloud, and Photo Stream - is to serve as the connective tissue between all of your many devices (as long as your devices aren't running, say, Android, or some flavor of Linux). It's generally more useful on this account (Photo Stream is very easy to get used to if you're in the habit of taking a lot of pictures or screenshots), but it won't be as useful as it could be unless developers begin updating their apps to take advantage of iCloud's APIs. The trouble here is that some of those developers (Microsoft chief among them) have their own cloud services to push. Only time will tell how popular iCloud will become among third parties.
None of this is to say that iCloud won’t be a success, or at least more of a success than MobileMe ever was. The services lost in the transition from MobileMe to iCloud (iDisk and iWeb publishing among them) are mostly replaceable, it’s now free of charge and, critically, it brings reasonably sophisticated services to people who previously might not have bothered to set them up: synchronizing mail, calendars, contacts, photos, documents and the rest between several different devices is now something a casual user can do without too much effort.
Whether iCloud succeeds in the long run depends largely on whether those novice users (and developers) take advantage of its features, and on the service’s reliability once it’s handling data syncing and data backup for millions of Macs and iOS devices.