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Microsoft apologizes for riling OneDrive users, restores some free storage space on request

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 14, 2015
But doesn't budge on decision to scratch unlimited storage for consumers; 'We made a business decision,' company now says.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft on Friday apologized for how it conveyed last month's decision to slash OneDrive storage allotments, and restored the 15GB of free cloud storage space to current users who asked for it. But it did not back down from its determination to eliminate the unlimited allowance.

"We are all genuinely sorry for the frustration this decision has caused and for the way it was communicated," wrote Douglas Pearce, a group program manager for OneDrive, in a message that shut down a massive plea on Microsoft's own website for the restoration of the allotments.

Pearce was referring to an unsigned blog post of Nov. 2 that laid out changes to Microsoft's consumer cloud storage service. In that post, Microsoft said it would dump unlimited storage for subscribers to its Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal plans, setting the new limit at 1TB; slash the free allowance from 15GB to 5GB, reducing it by 67%; drop two paid plans; and add a new one that effectively raised the price of the lowest-cost option by 100%.

Not surprisingly, OneDrive users and Office 365 customers howled. They scoffed at Microsoft's rationale for the elimination of unlimited storage -- the company cited a small number of file repository hogs -- and demanded that the firm restore the 15GB of free space.

"I've been using OneDrive since the first days and I feel betrayed," said Diego B on Nov. 3 in comments appended to Microsoft's blog post of the day before.

Beyond the mea culpa, however, Microsoft will not bend on the move to strike OneDrive's unlimited allowance. "Office 365 Home, Personal, and University subscriptions will continue to include 1TB of storage," Pearce said.

He also outlined a limited-time offer that current OneDrive users may request. "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," Pearce said. "If you also have the 15GB camera roll bonus, you'll be able to keep that as well."

Users must explicitly ask to be grandfathered in by clicking "Keep your free storage" on this website before the end of January 2016.

Those who don't hear of the offer will apparently be out of luck, as Pearce said nothing about reaching out to all OneDrive users via email.

Rather than claiming that the roll-backs were due to a few storage gluttons -- as Microsoft did initially -- Pearce said it was a "business decision" without giving details.

That decision may have been based on Microsoft's revenue calculations. Computerworld last month projected that the Redmond, Wash. company could earn nearly $107 million more each year by moving just 1% of its OneDrive users from the "free" column of the ledger to "paid."


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