OneDrive users petition Microsoft to rethink storage cuts

'Incredibly shortsighted,' says one petitioner on Microsoft's own UserVoice after company cuts free storage by 83%

onedrive petition

OneDrive users on Tuesday took to an online petition website and to Microsoft's own UserVoice feature request service to demand that the company rethink its decision to reduce free storage allotments by 83%.

On the petition site, an open letter to the OneDrive team asked for a U-turn. "The newest changes to the storage plans have bought much concern to the OneDrive and Windows community," the petition said. "Discontinuing the unlimited storage option on grounds of abuse is fair enough, but why go to the extent of punishing all your customers?"

As of early Wednesday, the petition had collected nearly 2,000 virtual signatures.

The petition argued for a restoration of the eliminated 100GB and 200GB plans, which Microsoft said would be eliminated in favor of a new 50GB deal, and urged that the cap for Office 365 subscribers be 2TB, double Microsoft's new limit.

Late Monday, Microsoft also said it would lower the free allotment from 15GB -- which had equaled that of Google's Drive -- to 5GB, or the same as Apple's parsimonious iCloud, in early 2016. At the same time, it will also dump the 15GB "camera roll," which Microsoft has handed out since September 2014 to smartphone owners who activated the auto-upload option for their photographs.

While much of the attention paid to Microsoft's OneDrive announcement focused on the company eliminating unlimited storage for Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscribers -- a move Microsoft attributed to abuse by a few gluttons -- most of those who left comments on the petition bewailed the reduction of the free allowance and the disappearance of the bonus photo storage space.

The reductions -- from a total of 30GB for those with the camera roll enabled -- to just 5GB, penalized the most loyal Microsoft customers, some argued.

"I do not pay for Office 365 but I do represent a big percentage of OneDrive users who had and used their free 15GB of storage + extra 15GB camera roll bonus," wrote Tim Moose early Wednesday. "5GB for pictures and documents is ludicrous. This extra storage was one of the reasons I boarded the Microsoft ship, buying a Lumia, a Windows 10 PC and an Xbox One. Is this part of the cloud strategy? If it is, your strategy should be revised."

"I am using the Windows Phone ecosystem and OneDrive is [an] essential part of it," said Petr Zizka. "In my eyes, main storage + camera roll storage were cornerstones of the whole ecosystem. Now they are gone."

Other OneDrive users took to Microsoft's own petition-like website, UserVoice, to lodge their complaints and make their requests. UserVoice is a Microsoft service that lets customers suggest changes to the company's products, and has been an important part of Microsoft's renewed emphasis on feedback and its pivot to constantly evolving software.

"Give us back our storage," the UserVoice entry asked. By early Wednesday, the item had been up-voted more than 16,000 times, and included over 800 comments, easily blowing by other OneDrive requests.

"This is an incredibly shortsighted move," said Charles Tyldsley yesterday. "Clearly aimed at getting more people onto the paid Office 365 sub, when in fact all it'll do is drive away a huge amount of users. I now feel stupid for recommending OneDrive to all my family."

"Really bad call. Why punish everyone for your mistake of offering unlimited storage?" asked Kevin McIntosh. "OneDrive was what kept me on the Windows platform, even with my appless Windows phone. As an owner of 4 Surfaces [and] 6 Windows phones, I am off to rethink my options."

Others called Microsoft's move "boneheaded," "atrocious," "unbelievable," "foolish" and worse, with scores saying that Microsoft had exhausted their patience and driven their trust in the company's commitments to zero.

"I can understand that there is a need for limits, but launching OneDrive as the glue in the ecosystem to share data, and next limit it to 5GB is a curious move," said someone identified only as "WW" yesterday. "Given the move to unify those experiences more with Windows 10, this move makes not much sense if you want to convince people to stick around in that ecosystem."

The commenter had a good point: Microsoft has repeatedly pitched OneDrive as an important part of its push to provide services and software to devices of all stripes, including iOS and Android, a cornerstone of CEO Satya Nadella's "mobile-first, cloud-first" strategy. Last month, in fact, Nadella used Microsoft's quarterly earnings call with Wall Street to boast that half a billion people have stored documents and photos in OneDrive.

The storage service also serves as a critical link between Windows devices, and has been heavily promoted as part of Windows 10's promise. "Windows 10 comes with elegant built-in apps like Maps, Photos, Mail & Calendar, Groove, Movies & TV," Microsoft's marketing page for the OS declared. "And these apps use OneDrive to back up your information and sync seamlessly across your Windows 10 devices, so you're never far from what you need."

"OneDrive was integrating perfectly on all Windows 10 [PCs], [Windows] phones and Windows Server 2012, why would you kill something that was my opening pitch to everyone to get them back into Microsoft Ecosystem?!" asked Mani on UserVoice today.

Another put in starker terms.

"The low-end storage tier restrictions and timing (just before holidays and Lumia 950 availability) of this OneDrive announcement could not have been worse if a hostile competitor had infiltrated Microsoft to take it down from the inside," said Michael Glenn. "Most of the enormous promise and goodwill built up around Windows 10, new Lumia flagship phones, Office everywhere and generous cloud storage could be utterly destroyed overnight by this reckless overreaction."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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