The OneDrive “unlimited” debacle: how to lose friends and alienate people

Earlier today Microsoft reneged on its promise to deliver unlimited storage to all OneDrive users. The blog post can be found here:

I am generally pro-Microsoft, will defend its actions, sing its praises, etc. Recently people commented that the space-time continuum might crack because I chose to move away from Windows Phone and back to an iPhone. The reality is that was always going to be short-term. I am not a fan of the iPhone, refuse to use Android, and will most likely go back to a Windows phone in the near future.

But let’s talk about OneDrive and where my frustration is coming from.

Microsoft for the past couple of years had been making significant strides in being “cool” and relevant again. It always had the old stigma about it but some serious headway was being made around Microsoft being the ecosystem and platform of choice – regardless of your device. If you had an iPhone or Android it wasn’t an issue because OneDrive was there, waiting for you to store and share your content.

Here’s the issue: if you launch an “unlimited” service – people are going to treat it as such.

When the “unlimited” announcements were made, often I would explain the rationale behind it: that while some people may fully utilise the service the reality is most people will only store a few gigabytes of data, and so the maths was done that you could offer “unlimited” without fear of being crushed under the weight of it.

I can understand if Microsoft found some people really taking advantage of the “unlimited” offer and thought that something needed to be changed. The blog post refers to “a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings”. That can easily be dealt with by changing the Terms of Service or Acceptable Usable Policy, and then politely tapping those users on the shoulder and asking them to comply.

Instead what Microsoft has done is punished the ENTIRE user base of OneDrive.

OneDrive has already had a tumultuous journey from its Live Mesh days, to SkyDrive, then to OneDrive, then sync changes in Windows 8/8.1, then app changes, etc. It was well on the path to being a solid foundation for the whole “any device, anywhere”. But not now.

Free storage is reduced to 5GB, no 15GB camera roll any more. Seriously???? With the continual increase in smartphone camera quality 5GB would barely last a few months (especially not when you have kids and video everything they do).

Sure for paid users they will get 1TB of storage, which in my opinion is more than enough for the average user. Personally I have 340GB of storage due to various bonuses, however I only use about 120GB of that (about 80GB of that is actually MP3s ripped from CDs I bought years ago). So I’m going to be fine, and if I need to buy more I’ll happily pay.

There’s two issues at play here: Microsoft’s reaction to the uptake of the “unlimited” offer (or as Barney Stinson would say “challenge… accepted”), but I think more so the wording of this blog post. The person who wrote it articulated only the changes. This blog post was a massive slap in the face, and Microsoft will be feeling the pain for a long time. In the world of cloud we were sold on prices going down and services getting better. Reversing position by one of the giants that is trying to win hearts and minds is very unsettling.

The damage is done Microsoft; the cat is out of the bag. You could have done that a hell of a lot better.