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Microsoft Unveils Revised OneDrive for Business Storage Policy

Microsoft expects to come through with its promise of "unlimited storage" for some OneDrive for Business customers, but under certain conditions that weren't previously explained.

The new policy announced this week comes with lots of nuances. An unlimited storage capability will gradually roll out to some OneDrive for Business customers starting at the end of this month, according to an announcement by Jeff Teper, Microsoft's corporate vice president for OneDrive and SharePoint. The rollout will get completed in March. This gradual rollout approach is a typical Office 365 services practice.

Microsoft had initially rolled out unlimited OneDrive cloud-based storage to all of its Office 365 subscribers a year ago, although business subscribers using OneDrive for Business were told back then that they'd have to wait for their service expansions to happen sometime in 2015.

Policy Changes
Teper explained this week that the OneDrive for Business unlimited storage expansion will just be available to certain Office 365 subscribers and it won't be automatically unlimited. Organizations will get 5TB of storage per user initially. They can get more storage than 5TB per user, but they'll have to request it from Microsoft.

Here's how Teper described the new storage policy for OneDrive for Business subscribers:

We will begin rolling out increased storage to these customers by the end of this month, starting with an automatic increase from 1 TB to 5 TB per user. We expect this rollout to complete by the end of March 2016. After this point, customers who want additional storage can request it as needed by contacting Microsoft support.

To be eligible for unlimited OneDrive for Business storage access, organizations must have more than five subscribers under the following Office 365 plans:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E3, E4 and E5
  • Office 365 Government E3, E4 and E5
  • Office 365 Education
  • OneDrive for Business Plan 2 and SharePoint Online Plan 2

Other Office 365 plans for enterprise or business users aren't eligible for unlimited storage. Instead, they'll get 1TB of storage per user.

Support Policy Notifications
Microsoft is supposed to announce important Online Services changes one year in advance per its Online Services Support Lifecycle Policy, but it possibly fudged that approach regarding OneDrive for Business unlimited storage. An important service change is one that involves "significant degradation to the normal use of the Online Service," per Microsoft's policy. In this case, Microsoft is just limiting service somewhat, so it's an arguable point.

Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers using OneDrive consumer storage weren't as lucky as the commercial OneDrive for Business users. Microsoft announced earlier this week that it will cut back their unlimited OneDrive storage space to 1TB per user sometime in early 2016. Possibly, this sharp notice for those consumer subscribers can be considered to be a violation of Microsoft's online support policy, but that policy only refers to "business" and "developer" customers. It doesn't describe consumer use rights.

Teper's announcement offered an apology for those Office 365 subscribers "who expected unlimited storage across every Office 365 plan," which is what Microsoft promised a year ago.

New OneDrive for Business Sync Client
Microsoft had a few other OneDrive for Business announcements to make this week, including a new sync client that's "available for deployment." This client, called the "OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client," features large-file support of up to 10GB and it removes a 20,000-file sync limit.

The new sync client is currently available for Windows 7, 8 and 10 versions. Support for Windows 8.1 will arrive in "the first quarter of 2016." The new sync client will support Mac OS X 10.9 and beyond "before the end of December 2015."

Eventually, the OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client will support SharePoint document libraries, but it doesn't right now. Microsoft's announcement promised that the new sync client will work "side-by-side with the existing sync client," which is a workaround until that time. Microsoft also promised that it will make the migration from the existing sync client easier for end users, an improvement expected in "the first quarter of 2016."

Mobile App Improvements
Microsoft released a new OneDrive app for Windows 10 Mobile, the company announced this week. The actual Windows 10 Mobile operating system, though, is still at the testing stage, although it's expected to hit the final product release sometime this month.

An updated OneDrive for iOS mobile app will be available at the end of this month. It will support offline storage of files, allowing users to tag files for later offline access. That offline storage capability is already available in the OneDrive for Android mobile app. Microsoft plans to add the offline storage capability to OneDrive for Windows 10 Mobile "in the second quarter of 2016."

Microsoft also explained that its Office Lens solution, which facilitates photographic logging of receipts, business cards and whiteboard presentations, will support Android and Windows 10 Mobile OneDrive for Business storage "in the first quarter of 2016." Currently, OneDrive for Business storage works with Office Lens for iOS devices.

Dev Perks
Microsoft added tooling improvements to its OneDrive for Business developer portal. Developers now have a "new OneDrive for Business API" to tap. The API can be accessed directly or via Microsoft Graph.

Microsoft improved "file picker" integration in its updated tools for developers building Android, iOS or Universal Windows solutions for OneDrive for Business. This capability makes it easier for OneDrive for Business content to be exported or imported. Also, an updated "JavaScript Picker SDK for web app file management" was added.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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