Remember when the teacher would punish the whole class because of the actions of a few? That's how a lot of Microsoft OneDrive users feel after the company announced it was reneging on its pledge to give unlimited OneDrive cloud storage to Office 365 subscribers.

Microsoft unceremoniously announced it is dialing back the offer to 1TB for Home, Personal, and University subscribers. It was only last year when the company proclaimed it would provide the limitless cloud space as part of its push to sign up more people to its Office plan.

Gaming the System

In the reversal, Microsoft says "a small number of users" gamed the system, storing multiple PC backups, movie collections and DVR recordings.

"In some instances, this exceeded 75TB per user or 14,000 times the average," the post said. 

There are three key changes to OneDrive storage plans:

  • Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers now top out at 1TB of storage
  • The 100GB and 200GB plans are disappearing. Instead your options will be 50GB for $1.99 monthly
  • Free storage will drop from 15GB to 5GB. Also the camera roll storage bonus will be discontinued in early 2016

Anyone who has gone beyond the 1TB mark already can keep the storage for at least 12 months. Those unhappy with the change can also get a refund on their Office 365 subscription.

Also, anyone with a free OneDrive account with more than 5GB of storage can also access those files for a year. But then they'll have to pony up for more storage space.

Unhappy Users

The move created some rather unhappy responses, with over 700 comments on the Microsoft blog post. Most complained the decision unfairly punished the wider OneDrive user base because of the actions of a few.

David Lavenda, co-founder and VP of Marketing and Product Strategy at, a Milpitas, Calif.-based provider of user experience products for the digital workplace, told CMSWire, "The problem isn’t that the new bundle isn’t competitive; it’s that it signals a Microsoft misstep, a lack of experience in the consumer cloud storage market. 

"What comes into play is a pricing faux pas known as the ‘framing effect,’ which is a well-known cognitive bias. The framing effect shows that people will react to the same pricing choices differently based on how they are presented, and this is where Microsoft fell down."

Even though the new offering is strong — especially when compared to Google and Dropbox — it will be seen as a weaker offering by consumers because it is presented as a downgrade from the original plan, he explained, adding, "And Microsoft can ill afford such a setback in the cutthroat competitive market for becoming the consumer's cloud platform of choice."

While the need to hold some abusers of Microsoft's offer accountable is understandable, the switch up to the free storage tier is a little surprising. It hands Google a nice piece of marketing material, as you can get 15GB free monthly and then 100GB monthly for $1.99 per month. Not to mention the fact that reneging on its promise of unlimited cloud storage completely undermines Microsoft's efforts to position OneDrive as more than just a plain file share and sync system.

For most, 1TB should be plenty of room for personal files. However, whatever server space Microsoft freed up with this may have produced a lot of ill will the company will now need to undo.