Frustrated users complain about SkyDrive problems after Windows 8.1 update

There are more than 120 active discussion threads on Microsoft's SkyDrive forum

As people have moved to Windows 8.1 in the past two months, the drumbeat of reports that the OS update has affected the SkyDrive cloud storage service has grown louder.

Frustrated users have started more than 120 unique discussion threads on the SkyDrive section of Microsoft's Community site. There are other threads dealing with this topic in other sections of the site, and in third-party discussion forums.

Most of the threads on the company's Community site are active, and few have received a satisfying answer from Microsoft forum moderators.

The problems for the affected users began after installing Windows 8.1, the update to Windows 8 that started shipping in mid-October. The complaints include nagging and persistent error messages, slow performance, difficulty uploading files, lost and corrupted folders and documents, and sync troubles, including duplicate files and processes caught in a loop.

Asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesman said via email that the company is "aware of a small number of people discussing these issues on forums" and that it tries to work with them individually, often by phone, to solve their issues.

"Most people using Windows 8.1 and SkyDrive, however, are having a good experience," the spokesman wrote.

The affected users don't share the same view. "SkyDrive in 8.1 is obviously a complete mess. I think most people are having issues with it in some way or another," wrote someone identified in the forums as Amrgardner.

Although Microsoft states there isn't a generalized problem with SkyDrive in Windows 8.1, the number of discussion threads dealing with the issues and the number of people participating in them seems out of the norm for a problem that is uncommon. It's also rare for forum moderators to be stumped by most of the reports, which is leading some fed-up customers to give up on SkyDrive and move to competing cloud storage services.

It's unfortunate for those users who have SkyDrive problems with Windows 8.1, since the two products were deeply integrated in this OS update. Microsoft did that so using SkyDrive would be easier and more convenient than it had been on Windows 8, the company said in a blog post on Oct. 15. However, most of the comments readers made to that post in the following weeks were negative.

The volume of problem reports in the discussion forums may be due to an increase in SkyDrive use, now that the service is fused with Windows 8.1, according to IDC analyst Al Gillen. This increase in file replication activity could be shinning a brighter light on potential system weaknesses in SkyDrive.

"If there are corruption and other file issues being experienced by users of SkyDrive, that would be a very critical issue to resolve, since failing to address such problems would quickly damage the credibility of SkyDrive," Gillen said via email.

SkyDrive has become an extremely important product for Microsoft as the company tries to change itself from a provider of desktop applications into a provider of cloud-based software and services. SkyDrive acts as the underlying, common cloud storage service for Windows, Office and other major Microsoft consumer products. A workplace version called SkyDrive Pro is a key component of enterprise products such as the Office 365 cloud email and collaboration suite.

Meanwhile, the expectations are high for Windows 8.1, which was designed to address major complaints that plagued Windows 8. However, Windows 8.1's rollout has been far from perfect, as the OS update was hit by a variety of serious and disruptive bugs in the days and weeks following its release, including computers that couldn't boot up, peripherals that malfunctioned, software that couldn't be run and OS installations that couldn't be completed.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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