OneDrive “Gate” and How Microsoft Fucked Up Everything

onedrive-unlimited-storageWhen I’m wrong, I’m wrong. On my science and tech podcast, Sovryn Tech, I named–more-or-less at the time–newly-minted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella the Sovryn Tech 2014 Person of the Year. I did this for a few reasons.

  1. Microsoft started accepting Bitcoin for its digital goods (which they seem to have really backpedaled on), and is still the only major tech company to do so.
  2. Microsoft was open-sourcing and cross-platforming all kinds of mainstay software, which would’ve been thought anathema just years before.
  3. There was talk of Windows getting open-sourced.
  4. Microsoft was making apologies to PC gamers (whom I count myself in their number), since PC gamers were treated like lepers by Microsoft for what seemed like forever.
  5. He was passing around copies of Marshall Rosenberg’s amazing work, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, and requiring his teams to read it (this might not seem like a big deal, but as a fan of that not-so-popular work, I thought it was impressive).
  6. Microsoft announced that Office365 subscribers would get unlimited OneDrive cloud storage. UNLIMITED.

That last one–OneDrive’s unlimited storage–is the main thing I want to address here, because it’s no longer true. In fact, it’s not just not true, it has been completely reneged upon. As Ed Bott covered (and it seems like few others on the Microsoft beat have been courageous enough to talk about it, likely for fear of the comments section), Microsoft has officially stated that not only will OneDrive for Office365 subscribers no longer offer unlimited storage, but all free subscribers to OneDrive would go down from 15GB of free storage to 5GB of storage. Here’s a breakdown of the changes from Microsoft’s mouth:

  • 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.

Now, fortunately, for those that put money down to get into what Microsoft was offering with OneDrive, they can ask for a refund, since this is not always the case when a large company removes a feature or ability of a product. Consider years ago when Sony removed the “OtherOS” feature from the Playstation 3. This was a consumer fiasco that shouldn’t be so quickly forgotten. Sony built in the ability for their Playstation 3 consoles (which were actually near supercomputers due to their main processor) to run various operating systems, such as Linux distros. A lot of people were really onboard with this idea (myself included), and at the time in particular it was exciting to have a AAA gaming console, a word processor, a web browser, a full OS, and a blu-ray player all in one little box. While many will bring up the low amount of RAM that the PS3 had, the fact that you could put in massive hard drives–and again, that badass IBM Cell Project processor–made the PS3 a very viable computer and gaming console (and keep in mind that at this time in the 00’s, PC’s were getting passed over for the release of some of the amazing games of the day, so having a console still made sense, as to where today I don’t think it does). I really thought this was an interesting direction for Sony to head in, but then Sony pulled the rug out from underneath the whole thing, and made the “OtherOS” feature completely inaccessible the instant you did the latest PS3 system update, regardless of whether you had another OS installed or not (and yes, there were ways around this, but you were perpetually stuck in an older system version, which isn’t good).

The reason, Sony claims, that the “OtherOS” option was removed was because some people were using this ability to do things that Sony didn’t intend. It’s that vague. I think the reality of why they did this was that the “OtherOS” option allowed users to play “burned copies” of PS3 games on their machines. It’s that simple.

Now why would Microsoft pull the unlimited storage feature (or larger amounts for free users) of OneDrive out from underneath everyone? Microsoft’s claim:

“A small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average.”

So, like Sony, it’s all supposedly because of a small number of “bad eggs” using what Microsoft deems to be an excessive amount of data. Well, I call bullshit on the whole thing.

Microsoft–yes, I’m talking to you–you explicitly and unquestionably stated that you were offering UNLIMITED cloud storage, and now you are claiming that people are abusing what you were offering. It is by definition impossible for people to abuse something that is designed the way you made it. If you are offering unlimited data storage, then it doesn’t matter if people were taking up 75TB or 1000TB, you told them they had unlimited, and it’s not abuse if they actually take you up on your offer. It is shameful business practice to sell something to people and then take it away from them simply because they used it the way it was sold to them. Just like Sony with removing the “OtherOS” feature from the PS3. Don’t advertise a feature if you’re not willing to live up to the consequences of what you release.

I’m embarrassed to have ever had any kind words for Satya Nadella.

Also, I find it interesting–as one of my Sovryn Tech listeners pointed out–just how exactly Microsoft claimed to know what content was taking up all of those terabytes. Amazingly, Microsoft made it explicitly clear here that they are looking at everything you store online (not that this shocks me or anyone reading this, I’m sure).

OneDrive is now absolutely meaningless, and can just be lined up with the rest of the “me too” cloud services. They’re all the same garbage. It’s a pity, because as I said a year ago, the idea that somewhere in the world there was unlimited data storage being offered was a paradigm shift in the digital world. And with Microsoft being the one making the claim (and considering their Azure platform), I thought they could actually deliver on the promise. Even recent comments from Satya Nadella at the Windows 10 Devices Event (that I thought was brilliant), seemed to bolster the importance of OneDrive and how it differs from the competition: “As devices come and go, you persist”, was the phrase that he used, and I thought it was a powerful statement and a vision that Microsoft was going forward with. Well, I was wrong. Personally, I can’t “persist” on 1TB of cloud storage.

Yes, I am one of those people that was–according to Microsoft–“abusing” OneDrive. How dare I use a service the way it was explicitly marketed! Well, don’t worry, Satya, I won’t be using OneDrive anymore. In fact, I’ve already deleted every Microsoft app and piece of software I have. I’m removing my music, movie, and picture collections (all of which I used OneDrive for, I’d never put anything sensitive up there) from your service before the year you gave me to do so is over. It’s a shame as I was actually starting to enjoy the Microsoft experience, too. And I thought, with unlimited OneDrive storage, you were really paving the way for the future of computing. I don’t think the offer of unlimited storage can be underplayed enough in what it could have meant in the future, and the positive effect it would have on the company that it offered. But, I guess you won’t find out, Microsoft.

As to why I really think Microsoft did this, I can only speculate. But I’d guess that it comes down to people storing movie collections and the like having messed with Microsoft’s own plans for some kind of media service. If people have their collections available online already and for the price of an Office365 subscription, they likely won’t pay for a Microsoft media service.

So just when I think you’ve changed, Microsoft, I see you’re still there just waiting to pull the ol’ bait-and-switch on your customers again. Calling this whole fiasco “OneDriveGate” is very fitting, because I do think it’s a scandal. And let this be a lesson to all other companies out there…don’t ever oversell your offerings, and don’t go pulling features that could deeply effect a user’s personal data. The market will speak when you do, because now I’m going to become Newegg’s new best friend and buy a shit ton of massive local hard drives, and I’ll replace them as needed…and buy them with bitcoin.

The adage is true: there is no such thing as “the cloud”, it’s just someone else’s computer. And now we’re certain that you never know when someone is going to take their computer away from you.

Goodbye, OneDrive.

Carpe lucem!


donate_svt2DISCLAIMER: The ZOG Blog is the part of this site where Dr. Brian Sovryn can talk about anything. From pop culture, to philosophy, to just sharing updates with what’s going on at Zomia Offline Games and with other projects. Enjoy!