While Apple would no doubt prefer you to buy a Mac, the company must recognize that many iPhone and iPad users are still struggling with Windows on their desktops and laptops, and therefore have long offered versions Windows of key apps like iTunes and iCloud. In fact, the company once even offered a Windows version of its Safari browser.
Last year, Apple and Microsoft decided to further embrace the new world of Windows 10 by bringing iTunes to the Microsoft Store, and while iTunes is replaced by a separate set of apps on the Mac when macOS Catalina ships more later this year, for now Apple plans for iTunes to live on as a single, monolithic app for Windows users.
Similarly, Apple offers iCloud for Windows to provide better interoperability between Windows devices and iPhone/iPad, and now, ironically, Microsoft announced a major update to the iCloud app for Windows which will also include its addition to the Microsoft Store for maximum availability for Windows 10 users.
iCloud for Windows specifically offers the ability to access photos and videos from iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Photo Stream on a Windows PC, as well as integration with iCloud Mail, Calendars, Contacts, and Reminders ( as tasks) with Microsoft Outlook. Bookmarks also sync from iOS Safari to Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome.
What’s new in iCloud for Windows
While most of these features remain fundamentally unchanged from the previous version, the major new enhancement offered by iCloud for Windows is an all-new iCloud Drive experience that integrates tightly with Windows 10 in much the same way as iCloud’s own OneDrive. Microsoft, enabling fast file sharing and selective synchronization of files for offline use. In fact, Apple and Microsoft have collaborated to use Windows APIs for cloud storage synchronization, so it’s basically a drop-in replacement for OneDrive.
This means users can choose which files and folders they want to keep, or “pin” to their PC, and which they can leave in iCloud, though all files will still be accessible through Windows File Explorer on the PC. same way they do when syncing Desktop and Documents folders in macOS, or when using Microsoft’s OneDrive Files On-Demand feature on Windows 10, which “optimizes” unpinned files by deleting them local storage when they run out of space. Users can also share any file directly from Windows File Explorer, and it’s likely folder sharing will also arrive once macOS Catalina and iOS 13 arrive later this year.
iCloud Photos support has also been improved for Windows 10 users, allowing more seamless access to share Photo Streams and iCloud Photo Library from Windows File Explorer. However, there’s still no direct syncing with an actual photo management app on Windows – photos just appear in special folders, but they sync back and forth, meaning you can add your own photos to iCloud Photo Library or any shared album.
How can I get it?
If you are a Windows 10 user, the best and easiest way to install iCloud for Windows is from the Microsoft Store, where it is available as a free download for Windows 10 users version 18362.145 or higher. Users of older versions of Windows can still download iCloud for Windows directly from Apple, although many of the newer features are designed exclusively for Windows 10.