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.

Is Yammer an extinction-level event?

Much like the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs millions of years ago, Cloud is doing the same to IT pros the world over – either putting them out of a job, or changing their job around them.

Recently I have been embroiled in some bickering brought about by Microsoft MVPs who have been told to move their conversations to Yammer instead of via traditional Exchange-based distribution lists. (When I say embroiled – I was more of an instigator and antagonist.)

I extol the virtues of Yammer to customers, partners and anyone who will listen. Why? Not because I love it, or because I think it is the answer to everything – but because it changes the way we work and collaborate, and I think for the better.

A number of IT professionals (even MVPs) have been quite resistant to Yammer, seeing it is another means of communication when they already have (several) other working forms. They also see it as something else they need to learn, or too noisy, and call out elements where they perceive it to be inferior. Some of the commentary I have heard from those people is that they will absolutely refuse to use Yammer.

Thinking about it in hindsight – such vehement opposition to Microsoft products is not new. It was recently seen when Microsoft killed off the Small Business Server product line, when BPOS (and later Office 365) was introduced, when the Start menu was taken away in Windows 8, the Office Ribbon was introduced, and many others. These people were feeling challenged, their comfort zone (and profession) was changing, and they were being forced to adopt something they didn’t particularly agree with (or know how to use).

Most recently (literally the day before this blog post, which got me so riled up) the Microsoft team that drives the engagement with Office 365 (and related) MVPs decided to kill off our two distribution lists as we were already using Yammer. Most of the Office 365 MVPs had already voted in favour of this. A number of other MVPs (even some with the Office 365 team) objected with a variety of reasons. My beef with this was that some of the MVPs said they would refuse to use Yammer instead of the distribution list. Seriously? You do realise the train is leaving the station? Yelling at the driver won’t make any difference.

The problem with objecting to Yammer, calling it an inferior platform, and anything else – is that unless you have actually adopted and mastered it your opinion isn’t worth the bytes it consumes. It is not fair or balanced. It’s like saying Office 365 is better than Google Apps. Why? Because the marketing material says so. See if you can define “better” from every person’s perspective and see how you go.

Cutting through the crap – will people every switch from Lync, SharePoint or Exchange to Yammer because it replicates some of their functionality? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Will people choose to initiate conversations, share information, and communicate in Yammer instead of the other 3 products? Absolutely! And that is why Microsoft is integrating them with Yammer.

Just because Yammer has messaging functionality does not mean it threatens Exchange or will ever replace it. It simply means that *some* messaging will take place on Yammer instead of via email. Can Yammer do exactly what an Exchange distribution list can do? To be realistic – yes, the functionality is not that complex (send mail to email address, distribute to members of list, repeat). Is Yammer perfect for every person – no, nothing is.

And that’s the point. Yammer (like many solutions) is most things to most people. It is not everything to everyone. And therefore it won’t do everything the way every single person wants it to. Does that mean we should stay where we are and not move forward? No. Let’s lift our knuckles off the ground, stand up a bit straighter, and walk forward.

Yammer is not an asteroid, it is not the ice age, it is not the wheel, and it is not fire. It is more like the invention of sliced bread. It’s still bread – we just consume it differently.


NOTE: This blog post has been revised since it was originally written as several people commented out that some of my called out a certain group and ultimately had originated in a private forum (distribution list actually). Taking this into consideration I have revised those relevant sections as the resistance to change is in fact broader that that specific group.