Open Letter to Microsoft about Limiting Storage on OneDrive

I have been a OneDrive user since the early SkyDrive days, and although I have been patient with the many changes to the service in that time (changing data thresholds and plans, the boneheaded decision to eliminate placeholders in Win10), I am nearing my limit with what I will accept from this company.

Open Letter to Microsoft

Please consider the following:

1) It is not my fault that you had to change your business model, and it is insulting that the official reason given for (yet another) OneDrive restructuring is that a minority of customers “abused” the system. This is dangerous language to use with paying customers, especially when most of us were lured to your service with promises of “unlimited” storage. I understand that some users are consuming more space than you expected, and that some of that data may be copyrighted, but these are issues are not the fault of the average, paying customer. If your marketing department sold more capacity than you can actually afford to provide, *just say that*. If some customers are storing content illegally, *enforce your EULA* and be done with them. But don’t blame the rest of us for *actually using* the very storage you sold us. I am amazed that a major corporation is stooping to such a childish excuse to initiate a pricing change. How did this damaging “message” get through your P.R. department?

2) Some people need more than 1 TB of space. Really. I currently use about 1.2 TB of OneDrive space, mostly for backing up photos, home videos, work projects, and some personal data. But I *have* around 2.6 TB of available OneDrive space, even if you discount the “unlimited” amount I actually pay for each month via my Office 365 subscription. Am I abusing my storage? You tell me. Or rather, don’t. I still have a full terabyte of unused storage, and that’s if you don’t include the “unlimited” amount your marketing department sold me on. Despite consuming well under any previous cap, I will soon be forced to drastically change my OneDrive usage. And the best part? I can’t buy enough from you! Even if I continue with Office 365 and am grandfathered into a 200GB plan, I will top out around 1.2 TB, which is exactly what I already use. So, if I choose to stay with you, I am already maxed out.

3) After leading the competition on price and storage versatility (and going to great effort to market your service as such), OneDrive is suddenly positioned among the most expensive and most restrictive. Is it also the most reliable and user friendly? Not in my experience. I used to chide my sister for relying on iCloud when she could have had so much more storage on OneDrive. “Sure,” I said, “the interface is a bit clunky, and it still crashes a lot, but check out this placeholder function.” Then you took that away. “Well, at least OneDrive is better on a MB/dollar basis.” Embarrassed again. “Hey, but at least my Windows phone has a perk over your iPhone … I get free photo storage.” Nope, gone. As of today, I can actually get better options from nearly all of your competitors, and I am seriously questioning my sanity for being loyal to your company this long.
(Disclosure, I was a huge Apple fanboy in the mid-90s before switching, so my judgement is suspect. Then again, people like me helped bring around Apple’s company’s resurgence in the early ’00s, so maybe it isn’t.)

If my reaction seems misplaced, understand that it is cumulative. Over many years, I have championed — and appeared foolish for championing various Microsoft products — Zune, Win7 Phone, Win8 Phone, Surface RT, and Win8.1 — all of which exhibited flashes of true brilliance, but which were executed poorly, poorly marketed and ultimately burned their customers badly. Seriously, there are reasons these products were market failures, and it wasn’t the customer’s fault.

Why dredge all of this up? Because it’s part of a greater picture. Microsoft can be a brilliant company that often provides brilliant (and cost-effective) solutions for its paying customers. It is also a company that frequently takes its customers for granted and appears to constantly chase new opportunities in lieu of sticking with well-conceived products and making them work. I understand we operate in a fast-moving world, and that the opinions of a single user in a single market is practically meaningless. I also understand that companies must follow profits and reconfigure their businesses to take advantage of market opportunities in rapidly changing circumstances.

People talk. The “recalibrated” OneDrive customer at home might also be the woman who makes decisions about cloud storage at her company. The MS fan who has been repeatedly burned for advocating MS products, might start actively warning friends, family and colleagues against those products, not out of animosity, but out of an understanding that the company is unreliable. Trust is a real thing. It is a cumulative reward, and it can’t be bought. It can be destroyed very quickly with poor communication, poor follow-through and arrogance.

Since I’ve presumptuously shared my criticisms with you, I’ll also state what I want. I doubt I’m alone in this. So please: Develop, and pursue rigorously, a coherent mobile, PC and cloud strategy that is cost-effective and flexible to user needs. Delight your consumer and enterprise customers with solutions that work across a variety of home and work environments. Become the company whose products people want to use constantly, not just because I have to, but because people love them.

Finally, and this is possibly the most important point: Understand that you are not in the leadership position anymore, and that you can no longer offer middle-of-pack solutions and charge as much or more than your (often superior) competition. Android and Apple are real options, even for a die-hard like me.

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