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Office 365 Customers Slam Decision to End Unlimited OneDrive Storage

Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away. In what has quickly resulted in unwelcome backlash, Microsoft last night announced it's withdrawing its unlimited storage option for consumer Office 365 accounts. Why? Apparently some customers felt that entitled them to store their entire digital movie collections in some case exceeding 75TB. The limit scales back to 1TB effective immediately. Customers will have a year to keep what's there but are unable to store more.

Not surprisingly, the move is going over as well as JetBlue's decision to start charging customers to check their bags earlier this year. "Wow, wtf is Microsoft thinking... They essentially just killed OneDrive," tweeted customer Al-Qudsi, a dental student who's likely to remember this when he sets up his own office.

The problem with Microsoft's reasoning  is that it should have realized when it made the offer that some would actually take the company up on it. "I don't understand why companies offer unlimited something and then are surprised when some people try to use it," tweeted tech editor Harry McCracken, now a contributor to Fast Company.  Many customers slammed Microsoft on its own blog post announcing the change.

"I've been using OneDrive since the early days of SkyDrive and I have more than 300GB of storage from Surface and early adopter bonus," in a comment posted by Jim. "I will cancel my Office 365, demand a *full* refund, and move my files back to my NAS. I will also file a complaint to the BBB. The OneDrive team, you should really be ashamed of yourself. MSFT spent the last two, three years to rebuild the trust with its power users, and you managed to destroy all that hard work by a blog post."

Microsoft explained its reasoning in the announcement. "Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75TB per user or 14,000 times the average. Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users."

The changes, according to the post, are as follows:

  • Microsoft is no longer providing unlimited storage to Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers. Subscriptions now include 1TB of OneDrive storage.
  • 100GB and 200GB paid plans are no longer an option for new users and will be replaced with a 50GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016.
  • Free OneDrive storage will revert to 5GB from 15GB, which includes the camera roll storage bonus at some point in early 2016.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has scaled back on its storage offerings in OneDrive. Back when it was called SkyDrive, Microsoft offered all customers free 25GB storage and slashed it back to 7GB until last year when it announced the unlimited option. Just over a year ago, Microsoft reversed course. "Today, storage limits just became a thing of the past with Office 365," announced Chris Jones, who was corporate VP for the OneDrive and SharePoint team until he was reassigned back in March, as reported by blogger Mary Jo Foley.

However, if you're among those who never received the unlimited option, you're not alone. "During the past few months, I've heard from several dissatisfied Office 365 subscribers who never received their unlimited storage upgrades," wrote Ed Bott, in his ZDNet Ed Bott Report blog.  "Now we know why."

How severe the backlash is remains to be seen but it's likely to raise questions about Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer. At the same time, there are many who won't be fazed by the latest move. I've come across many (some are even IT pros) who were unaware of the amount of capacity Microsoft offers. For me, 1TB isn't shabby but for those sold by the more generous option, that may offer little solace.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/03/2015 at 11:34 AM


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