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Microsoft today issued an apology for its OneDrive trainwreck. The company is backpedaling slightly on the downgrades announced in November, but not the removal of unlimited storage.

In other words, the situation is still a clusterfuck. Now it’s just a slightly less shitty clusterfuck.

In October 2014, Microsoft removed the 1TB limit on its OneDrive service for Office 365 subscribers. If you were paying for Office 365, you suddenly had unlimited storage, at no additional cost — a steal given that the cheapest Office 365 subscription costs $7.00 per month.

But last month, Microsoft changed its mind and removed the unlimited option. Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal, and Office 365 University plans went back to the previous 1TB of OneDrive storage.


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Paid OneDrive users: No change

Microsoft blamed “a small number of users” that really took advantage of the “unlimited” option, even uploading in excess of 75TB, which was apparently “14,000 times the average.” Today, the company is apologizing for this:

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.

That said, on the paid user front, nothing is changing. Like the company announced in November, if you have any of the aforementioned Office 365 plans and have stored in excess of 1TB, you will be able to keep your increased storage for at least 12 months. Microsoft is also offering prorated refunds (FAQ) in case you decide Office 365 is no longer a good deal.

Nothing is changing for other paid OneDrive users either: 100GB and 200GB paid plans are still going away for new users, to be replaced with a 50GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016. If you have a standalone OneDrive storage plan already, though, you’re not affected.

But again, Microsoft isn’t changing its mind for any of the above. There’s the apology, but that’s it.

Free OneDrive users: Click the link

Just go here. If you have 15GB or 30GB of storage in your OneDrive account, you get to keep it. The link expires on January 31, 2016.

So the only real changes being announced today are for free OneDrive users. In November, Microsoft said:

Free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15GB to 5GB for all users, current and new. The 15GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016. If you are using more than 5GB of free storage, you will continue to have access to all files for at least 12 months after these changes go into effect in early 2016. In addition, you can redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription (credit card required), which includes 1TB of OneDrive storage.

That one free year of 1TB storage is still coming. Free OneDrive users whose accounts are using more than 5GB will receive an email with redemption information “early next year.” Again, that’s also when the downgrade to 5GB will occur.

Here’s the new part as of today:

In addition, for our biggest fans who have been loyal advocates for OneDrive, we are adding a new offer that lets you keep your existing 15GB of free storage when the changes happen next year. If you also have the 15GB camera roll bonus, you’ll be able to keep that as well.

Again, make sure to click the link above. This will not work if you don’t already use OneDrive.

If you already have a free OneDrive account with 15GB of storage (and/or the 15GB camera bonus) and you use more than 5GB of storage, you’ll want to take advantage of this deal. If you don’t click, you’ll get a notification about the changes and have 90 days to take action before your account becomes read-only. If you are still over 5GB after the 90-day notification, you will have nine months where you can still access files, and after that if you’re still over quota, you will not be able to access your account until you get below 5GB. After a year, content may be deleted.

If you are looking to sign up for a free OneDrive account, you can still get 15GB from now until when the downgrade goes into effect next year. Once the changes are implemented in early 2016, if you sign up for a free OneDrive account, you’ll only receive 5GB of storage.


Microsoft is making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be. If the company can’t bring unlimited storage back because it doesn’t make business sense, that’s understandable.

But the lengthy explanation above should be a huge signal to Microsoft that this is a poor solution. For example, why not downgrade those with unlimited storage down to 2TB instead of the 1TB they had before?

“These types of decisions are never easy,” Douglas Pearce, product manager of SharePoint and OneDrive, told VentureBeat. “When we evaluated our storage offerings, it was clear that our previous model wasn’t sustainable over time and ultimately a bad decision on our part to offer unlimited. Our data showed us that 1TB meets the needs of 99.98% of our Office subscribers. It’s enough space for 1 million Office documents or 330,000 photos.”

Exactly. So if 1TB meets the needs of 99.98 percent of your customers, then giving everyone a 2TB limit isn’t going to cost you that much more now, will it? But it sure as hell will look better than reverting everyone to the limit you had in 2014.

For free users, the company should keep everyone at 15GB, no links required. Why should existing users have to opt in to keep their storage? Storage limits are going to increase, as they do every year. 15GB will be the norm soon enough. Microsoft should simply limit new users to 5GB accounts.

This is a PR failure: Microsoft’s move will be seen as a downgrade, because that’s what it is. Today’s deal is nice, but it still stops short of addressing the trainwreck.

Microsoft’s attempt to turn up the heat in its battle against Dropbox and Google Drive has turned out to be a huge overreach. Not only has the company taken away the promise of unlimited storage, it has disillusioned its most passionate fans. It’s frankly disappointing that the above deal is all the team could come up with after more than a month of deliberations.

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