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article imageMicrosoft 'genuinely sorry' for OneDrive storage backlash

By James Walker     Dec 12, 2015 in Technology
Over a month after thousands of angry OneDrive users threatened to abandon Microsoft's ecosystem when the company made some far-reaching changes to OneDrive storage, the company has apologized and extended a life-line for people to retain their storage.
Last month, Microsoft managed to totally obliterate its reputation with many OneDrive users by suddenly announcing a complete overhaul of its storage plans, eradicating the current unlimited option and reducing free storage to just 5GB from 15GB. The long-standing offer of an extra 15GB free for turning on automatic camera-roll back-up from mobile devices was also slated for removal, giving customers just a sixth of the free storage they once had.
OneDrive users were understandably upset. After years of encouraging people to use OneDrive as the "free storage for everything in your life," the announcement seemed to represent a sudden change in heart. Windows 10 is built around the cloud and saves documents and photos to OneDrive by default.
Microsoft claimed that some users of its "unlimited" tier had been exploiting the service by uploading terabytes of home media files but would not explain why free storage had been reduced. The company appeared to be punishing its entire community for the actions of a minority of users, over-reacting to an issue that was entirely its own creation.
A petition titled "Give us back our storage" on the OneDrive UserVoice forums has now attracted over 72,000 votes, becoming the most up-voted request on the site in the process. Although it initially seemed that Microsoft was going to simply ignore the protest, the company yesterday responded and admitted the "business decision" came across as "blaming customers for using our product."
Microsoft's Douglas Pearce closed the petition and announced that current OneDrive users will be able to keep their free storage after all. The fans and "loyal advocates" of the service have to visit a webpage before the end of January 2016 but once that task is completed will be able to retain their 15GB free storage and 15GB free camera roll bonus for life.
However, new users will still be capped to 5GB of free storage, without a camera roll bonus. Critics have questioned the decision as it will make OneDrive less attractive to people currently outside of Microsoft's ecosystem.
Unlimited storage is also gone forever. Office 365 Home, Personal and University plans are now capped at 1 terabyte of space. Current users of unlimited plans will be able to keep data for "at least" 12 months before being forced to scale down to 1 terabyte. Alternatively, a refund will be offered if OneDrive no longer suits their needs due to the changes.
The reaction to Microsoft's response has been decidedly mixed. Current users of the free plan have been largely appeased now they can keep their current storage but the general consensus is that Microsoft's response — coming over a month since it first announced the changes — is too little too late. The company appears to have axed the key selling point of OneDrive for many, the prospect of unlimited storage, because a few users took it at its word.
Microsoft claims to be "genuinely sorry" for the frustration it has caused. It said: "In November we made a business decision to reduce storage limits for OneDrive. Since then, we've heard clearly from our Windows and OneDrive fans about the frustration and disappointment we have caused. We realize the announcement came across as blaming customers for using our product. For this, we are truly sorry and would like to apologize to the community."
For many users, the damage has already been done though. Microsoft managed to completely destroy the trust of its community with its original announcement and has already felt the consequences. In the UserVoice thread and forums online, people have posted screenshots of themselves moving files to rival services and even going so far as to cancel pre-orders on Microsoft's new Lumia 950 smartphone. It has a 20-megapixel camera that captures large photos that are automatically uploaded to OneDrive.
Current OneDrive users should visit before January 31 to keep their current 15GB of free space and 15GB free camera roll bonus. It seems unlikely that Microsoft will be extending this offer past the deadline so OneDrive customers are advised to act soon to protect their free storage.
More about Microsoft, onedrive, Storage, Cloud, Windows
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