Microsoft has changed its mind about offering unlimited cloud storage to users of Office 365 and also cut the amount of free storage it offers Windows users.  The reason: some OneDrive users took advantage of the offer, so everyone has to pay.

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You may recall that just a year ago, the company upgraded all Office 365 users to unlimited OneDive storage plans. Now those Office 365 subscribers will be cut back to 1 TB of free storage.

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They also offered 15 GB of free storage to all OneDrive users and an additional 15 GB of camera storage for photos. In fact, Windows 10 actually pesters you to upload imported photos to that free storage.  Now that 15 GB is being cut back to 5 GB and the photo storage is being discontinued.

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Why? Well, Microsoft says it’s all your fault. In a blog post, the company said, “Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, 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. Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users.”

So, because some of the kids misbehaved, none of us get recess. Instead of focusing on those who were abusing the unlimited storage, the company decided to cut everyone’s storage.

Microsoft is also discontinuing their paid 100 and 200 GB plans for new customers and replacing that with a 50 GB $1.99 per month plan in 2016. If you currently pay for a 100 or 200 GB plan, you won’t be affected.

Office 365 users who have more than 1 TB of data will be notified of the change and allowed to keep the excess storage for 12 months. If they choose to cancel the plan because of this change, they’ll be given a prorated refund.

If you’re using more than 5 GB of free storage, you’ll have access to files for a least a year and be given the option to redeem a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription that comes with 1 TB of storage.

It seems pretty clear that when Microsoft offered all of this free storage to get people interested in OneDrive, they didn’t calculate how much it would actually cost them to maintain the servers and they seriously underestimated how many people would take advantage of the service.

There’s no word yet on how this change will affect those who subscribe to Office 365 for businesses.

The part that I find particularly disturbing about this is that Microsoft has aggressively encouraged people to upload their photos to OneDrive with the promise of free storage. Now that storage is not only being reduced, it’s going away entirely. Users have the option of moving a whole bunch of photos somewhere else or losing them. That smacks of bait and switch and I, for one, don’t like it.

I’ll be curious to see if the backlash over this decision causes Microsoft to change its mind or if they’ll ride out the storm. I’m also interested to see if other cloud storage options like GoogleDrive or DropBox dial back on their free storage options.

~ Cynthia