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Microsoft apologizes for offending OneDrive fans, but won't restore unlimited storage

Customers of Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service got an unwelcome surprise last month, with the company dropping its promised 'unlimited storage' option and drastically reducing free tiers. Today, the company apologized for its poor communication and announced a new offer to restore the old free limits for some OneDrive users.

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In the annals of bad corporate communication, Microsoft's decision last month to renege on a promise of "unlimited storage" for its OneDrive customers ranks pretty high.

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The details were bad enough, but the way in which the decision was communicated was even worse. An unsigned blog post, apparently written and published in haste, basically blamed customers for using the feature exactly as it was advertised.

And the community was quick to respond, with a "Give us back our storage" suggestion at the UserVoice site up to 72,000+ votes with more than 4,000 mostly caustic comments until this morning.

Today, Microsoft closed that post, responding with a mea culpa and a token offering to grandfather in some OneDrive features for some users.

Spoiler alert: Unlimited storage isn't coming back.

The changes in OneDrive storage were a "business decision," the company says, and today's note acknowledges that the announcement caused "frustration and disappointment" for customers. "We realize the announcement came across as blaming customers for using our product. For this, we are truly sorry and would like to apologize to the community."

"While we are not changing our plans," the announcement continues, it is taking another crack at clarifying the changes and making one new offer that will grandfather in some of the old limits for existing OneDrive users.

Here are the details:

  • Subscribers to Office 365 non-business editions (Home, Personal, and University), will receive 1 TB of OneDrive storage per user. For the small number of OneDrive users who had their storage allotment boosted to 10 TB and have used some or all of that space, the extra storage will continue to be available for at least 12 months. A full refund is available for any customer who isn't satisfied with that decision.
  • Anyone with a free OneDrive account who currently has more than 5 GB of content stored will receive one free year of Office 365 Personal, which includes 1 TB of storage. This offer will arrive via email early next year.
  • For OneDrive customers who currently have a 15 GB free storage allotment and a 15 GB camera roll bonus, Microsoft is offering to preserve those features, but only for those who opt in using this link, which is valid until January 31, 2016.
  • All OneDrive customers with free accounts who do not opt in to the loyalty offer will see their free storage cut to 5 GB and the camera roll bonus will disappear.

Today's announcements leave one major piece of the "unlimited storage" puzzle still in limbo. The Office 365 roadmap still has "unlimited storage for OneDrive for Business" under the In Development heading. Here's that roadmap entry as of December 11, 2015.

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But Office 365 Business and Enterprise subscribers are right to wonder if and when that decision is likely to change. Stay tuned.

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