Today the small world of Microsoft eco-system cried with outrage and dispair at the giant’s changes in OneDrive policies. Let alone obvious privacy issues and cutting at the wider fanbase loyalty one change stands out as it is capable of killing Lumia phones prospects in the eyes of very few still considering them.
Microsoft announced that it is changing its storage limits for OneDrive cloud service users effective either immediately or from early 2016. The reason is that some users took the liberty of reading into the “unlimited” offer literally. Well, they had every right to do so, as obviously “unlimited” was not limited in any parlance. This “small number of users” stored their entire video collections of up to 75 TB per user. Let’s leave the issue of how and of what right has Microsoft found out the details of these backups. This is non-essential at the times of complete cooperation with national security bodies.
What is essential, however, is that Microsoft decided to punish absolutely every OneDrive user instead of just taking action against those who took Microsoft’s words for granted. Gone are or soon will be unlimited plans (down to 1 TB with Office 365 subscriptions). Gone are 100 GB and 200 GB plans (downsized to 50 GB plan). And this is all fine by me as I wouldn’t trust any service with all my documents and photos (or have bandwidth/patience to upload them). Plus I would never trust any company when it says “unlimited” anything (like hosting companies do).
What is not fine by me and what sounds as really stupid is that gone is the offer that helped sell whatever Microsoft managed to sell in the phone market – free plans and offers. Many people bought their Lumias on the promise of 15 GB of free OneDrive storage plus additional 15 GB for their camera roll backup (backup of photos taken on their phones). These 30 GB will now shrink to mere and meagre 5 GB. By the way, that camera roll backup was available for iOS and Android users as well, gone now for them too.
Those 5 GB are said to be not so bad compared to some other services. But only at first glance. 5 GB now will have to accommodate your OneNote files (these apps are tied together), Outlook mail (actually this is not clear but I assume Outlook/MSN mail uses the same OneDrive storage allowance) and photos, plus whatever other files you decide to upload to the cloud.
I keep my music on the memory card. I don’t use Mobile Office or store docs on my phone. But I take pictures and sometimes make notes in OneNote. So far (two months into Windows Phone) I’ve already eaten about 800 MB (mostly for photos, which I am trying to curate and keep only the good or important ones). At current speed I will exceed my free allowance in less than a year. To be honest, my OneDrive says I still have 29.2 GB left. But then again I haven’t received an official letter from Microsoft about changes in its policies yet.
The problem that I clearly see is that Windows Phones (even the new flagship devices to start shipping soon) are deeply undermined by the shift in Microsoft vision of its business. And from the short-term business side the changes are probably a reasonable move. But reasonable does not mean smart.
How many people you know have a Windows Phone or are considering buying one? Chances are that the figure is negligible or low. Though surveys say that Windows Phone market share in Russia is growing (surprisingly at the expense of iPhones) I doubt anybody sees Windows Phones as real competitors to Android devices. The reason is in the app gap.
Now the app gap is widened by the storage loss. Why buy Windows Phones and use Microsoft apps if Microsoft cares first about its apps on iOS and Android and if Microsoft limits your app usefulness by cutting on the storage space that those apps require by default? Customers will obviously opt for Android devices that might be slightly more expensive with the comparable specs but offer way more applications and storage options that are now at least not worse than those on Windows Phones.
It may turn out that in some long-term Microsoft manages to make more people pay for more storage and even more people choose Windows Phones. But these prospects have just become bleaker. You don’t give a slap in the customers’ face (loyalty) overnight for nothing. Somebody will have to pay and I am not so sure that this somebody is going to be a Microsoft customer.