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Windows smartphone owners question Microsoft's commitment after OneDrive space reduction

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 9, 2015
Ironic: Microsoft pitched more storage last year to iPhone owners, but loudest complaints now come from Windows phone users.

Just weeks after Apple rolled out the slimmer iOS 9, Microsoft revamped OneDrive's storage policies, canceling the unlimited capacity of accounts tied to an Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscription, ditching the 100GB and 200GB plans for new customers, and adding a 50GB plan with a price twice that of Apple's identical iCloud offer.

Most notable, however, was Microsoft's decision to reduce the free allotment from 15GB to 5GB -- again, the same as iCloud -- and discontinue the 15GB bonus camera roll. Those changes go into effect in early 2016, but Microsoft has not provided a definitive date.

OneDrive users who took Microsoft's 2014 camera roll bonus offer thus face an 83% contraction of their free storage space, from 30GB to 5GB.

Users will have time to transfer OneDrive content to another service; pony up $2 per month -- or $24 annually -- for the new 50GB plan; subscribe to Office 365 Home ($10 per month, $100 per year) or Office 365 Personal ($7/$70) to get a 1TB account; or delete some of what they're stored to bring the total under 5GB.

Once Microsoft notifies a user early next year, they will have 90 days to make one of those moves; failing to do so within that span will put the OneDrive account into a read-only mode that will let the user retrieve files from the cloud but not add any new content. Nine months after notification, Microsoft will lock the account: The user won't be able to access it in any fashion, not even to download a file or photograph from the service.

One year after notification, Microsoft may start deleting the files stored in the overstuffed OneDrive account.

Microsoft is also extending a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal -- which comes with not only the 1TB of OneDrive space but also rights to install Office 2016 on one Windows PC or one Mac -- to those on a free ride with more than 5GB of content, and thus "affected by this change." Microsoft has not yet said how or where those users can claim the one-year subscription. After the one-year offer expires, customers' credit cards will be automatically dinged for the usual Office 365 Personal fees.

Although Microsoft promoted the 15GB camera roll bonus last year primarily to iPhone owners, the customers who beefed loudest last week about OneDrive's changes were those who had a Windows-powered smartphone.

"As a user of [a] Windows phone since 2012, I have relied on the free camera roll space," wrote Chad Klavetter on a petition filed this week on "So few phones have the option of expandable storage. OneDrive was touted as the solution. Now what am I supposed to do with my documents and photos from the past 3 years?"


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