Microsoft is taking advantage of its SkyDrive optical character recognition (OCR) to let Windows 8.1 users search for text within photos. OCR is currently rolling out to SkyDrive users worldwide and it automatically processes photos to provide extracted text as a file property. Microsoft is announcing today that Windows 8.1 will be able to access this text through the built-in Bing search.

If you're a Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone user then any photos stored in the camera roll, and uploaded to SkyDrive, will be processed automatically. If you take a picture of a train timetable and want to search for it at a later date, then Windows 8.1 will be able to access the text within that photo to find it and display it. It's a simple and useful feature for photo search, but it's also an easy way to automatically convert photos into text.

Smart files reduce disk space use by around 80 percent

Alongside the OCR improvements, Microsoft is also detailing its smart files approach for Windows 8.1. SkyDrive benefits from some changes that allow users to select which files they'd like to store offline on a PC, while using smart files to store information and thumbnails about a file before it's retrieved for use. Microsoft has found that SkyDrive takes up 80 percent less space by using the smart files approach in Windows 8.1.