Microsoft Backtracks On Unlimited Office 365 Storage Pledge, Slashes Allotments For Free OneDrive Accounts

Microsoft, which declared last October that it would let Office 365 consumer users store an unlimited amount of data on their OneDrive cloud storage accounts, has changed its mind.

The software giant said Tuesday that effectively immediately, it will no longer offer unlimited storage to subscribers running Office 365 Home, Personal or University versions. Microsoft will instead cap their accounts at 1 TB of storage.

In a blog post, Microsoft's OneDrive team said the move is a response to a "small number of users" who've been using the service to back up multiple PCs and to store large amounts of movies and DVR recordings.

[Related: Microsoft Partners Say OneDrive Needs Business-Friendly Features To Kill Dropbox, Box]

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Some users were storing more than 75 TB of data on OneDrive, according to Microsoft's OneDrive team."These changes are needed to ensure that we can continue to deliver a collaborative, connected, and intelligent service," the OneDrive team said in the blog post.

Microsoft is also cutting the amount of storage offered in its free OneDrive accounts from 15 GB to 5 GB, and ending an offer in which users who stored their camera roll on the service would get an additional free 15 GB of space. These changes will take effect in early 2016.

Microsoft early next year will also end its 100 GB and 200 GB OneDrive paid plans and replace them with a new 50 GB plan for $1.99 per month, the OneDrive team said in the blog post.

Users of free OneDrive accounts will have 90 days to move their files, and Office 365 subscribers will have until next November to get their data until the 1 TB threshold, according to the OneDrive team.

In the blog comments, dozens of irate OneDrive and Office 365 users are venting frustrations over Microsoft's decision to pull back on its cloud storage allotments. Some noted that Google offers 15 GB of cloud storage free of charge, while others noted that many USB thumb drives offer more than the 5 GB available on OneDrive.

But despite the hubbub, Microsoft channel partners told CRN they completely understand why the software giant was impelled to cut back on cloud storage.

"It was inevitable that people would take advantage of the situation. I don’t blame Microsoft one bit for capping the service," Jeff Chandler, president of American Technology Solutions, a Microsoft partner in Fairfax, Va., said in an email.

Joseph Awe, president of TechBldrs, an Exton, Pa.-based Microsoft partner, said he also supports the decision to end unlimited cloud storage.

"Like an unlimited buffet, letting people put crap in storage without some consequences is a bad idea. The people who get hurt are the ones that behave rationally. The hogs take all the capacity for nonsense that they will never need," said Awe.

Chris Pyle, president and CEO of Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based Microsoft partner, said what's important is that business users of Office 365 won't be impacted by the storage cutback.

"I believe from a business perspective, Microsoft had to do something [to keep] from being taken advantage of, and they are closing a very big loophole," Pyle said. "The bottom line is that a few bad apples ruined the bunch."