A little over a year ago, Microsoft announced with great fanfare that all Office 365 subscribers would get ‘unlimited’ OneDrive storage. Tonight, months after an executive shakeup, the company says it has no intention of keeping those promises.
Microsoft isn’t the first company to panic when customers take the word unlimited at face value.
Bott reports the company is blaming its change of heart on “a few greedy users”. If that was true, Microsoft could deal with the problem head on. It could include a reasonable use clause in its terms and conditions. Then, Microsoft could move on the “greedy users” warning them to go easy, cutting their access if they don’t.
Instead, it reverted to its bad Microsoft personality and broke the earlier promise. It also reduced the free OneDrive storage from 15GB to 5GB. If you buy the “few greedy users” line, this means punishing all users for the actions of a minority.
My feeling is that the “few greedy users” have little to do with the decision. It links to Microsoft now having a better understanding of cloud computing and where it will and will not find future revenue. Cloud storage may be profitable, unlimited cloud storage less so.
There have been howls of outrage from across the internet in response. Many users accuse Microsoft of bait and switch tactics. It’s possible the company will run into problems with consumer law in some countries where officials frown on bait and switch.
Microsoft’s critics will tell you this is all par for the course. That old-style monopoly thinking still lies beneath the more up-to-date rhetoric. I don’t buy that. Today’s Microsoft is different. It gets 2015 computing. The problem is that like everyone other than Apple and Amazon it struggles to tease out the best profit opportunities.
The scary aspect of Microsoft’s change of heart is how vulnerable cloud customers are when decisions are made by someone clicking a cell on an Excel spreadsheet 10,000 kilometres away. Who do you get on the phone to complain to?
Anyone who made plans based on unlimited OneDrive storage or even on 15GB of free storage will have to think again.