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In the last couple of years it has seemed that Microsoft has undergone something of a renaissance. They’ve gotten a new CEO and a new direction and have gotten better and better at being cloud first and more customer friendly.

This morning checking my feeds I was very disappointed to find that they have decided to remove a service that I’ve chosen to pay for. Cloud storage as a market has been exploding in the last few years with Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s Onedrive (formerly SkyDrive) being among the biggest of players. Microsoft have been integrating Onedrive into Windows more and more closely and trying to make it the logical choice to use. They’ve had some issues with file sync but on the whole had a good offering. If you jumped through a couple of hoops you got extra space and Even better if you paid for an Office Subscription you were offered “Office 365 Home, Personal and University plan subscribers have unlimited OneDrive storage. Store as much as you like in the cloud for free.”

Today Microsoft have changed that. To quote from their post:

  • We’re no longer planning to offer unlimited storage to Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers. Starting now, those subscriptions will include 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
  • 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans are going away as an option for new users and will be replaced with a 50 GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016.
  • Free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB for all users, current and new. The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.

Insultingly Microsoft have also given their reasons – a small number of users who paid for unlimited storage took Microsoft at their word and stored lots in there. Let me say that again. Microsoft said it was unlimited. Then they complained and called it abuse when people took them at their word.

Let’s be charitable and let Microsoft have that – I can see why they wouldn’t want to store that much data even if they said they could but that in no way justifies the removal of promised free tiers. A basic user who has a free account and the camera roll bonus would yesterday have had 30gb of free storage. Once the changes have finished rolling out they would have 5gb of free storage. Again this is Microsoft’s right to do but saying that they are doing it because of ‘abuse’ of a different plan simply does not make sense.

Personally speaking I’m steaming about this. One of the reasons I chose to subscribe to Office 365 was that unlimited storage. It meant I could store a good backup of all our family photos and videos on a paid service with a company I was sure would not go away. Now after a year they’ve taken the service away because people took them at their word and used the service as unlimited. I’m going to be looking for an alternative as the dust settles. I am using less than the 1TB the plan will reduce to but I can’t trust Microsoft to reliably store my data.

The free tier changes are potentially even worse – the 5gb most users will be left with will not be sufficient for most people and despite the fact OneDrive is integrated in Windows 10 customers will look more closely at competitors.

Trust takes a long time to build up and I can’t help but think that the cost savings Microsoft will make in hard disks will be more than outweighed by the PR disaster this has the makings to become.