Microsoft isn't earning any points for its convictions. But it may be appeasing some consumers by giving them at least some of what they want.

Last month the company frustrated hundreds of thousands of worldwide users by shrinking OneDrive storage limits for some Office 365 customers. Specifically, it imposed a cap of 1TB on storage for Office 365 consumers — 13 months after promoting unlimited storage on those same Office 365 Home, Personal and University accounts.

It also announced plans to reduce OneDrive's free storage from 15GB to 5GB, and discontinued a 15GB camera roll bonus. 

This month it backtracked on its backtrack and gave back some of what it took away.

In a blog post, Douglas Pearce, group program manager at Microsoft, publicly apologized for the decision to reduce storage limits for OneDrive.  

"We’ve heard clearly from our Windows and OneDrive fans about the frustration and disappointment we have caused. We realize the announcement came across as blaming customers for using our product. For this, we are truly sorry and would like to apologize to the community."

So here's what it's doing:

  1. Office 365 Home, Personal, and University subscriptions will continue to include 1 TB of storage. They will also get — for at least 12 months —any additional storage they received through the former unlimited offer. Anyone who doesn't like it can get a full refund.
  2. Customers using the free storage service who have more than 5 GB of content "and who are directly impacted by the storage change" will get one free year of Office 365 Personal, which includes 1 TB of storage. 
  3. It's also adding a bonus offer for its "biggest fans, who have been loyal advocates for OneDrive." This new offer lets those users keep their existing 15 GB of free storage as well as the 15 GB camera roll bonus if they sign up before the end of January.

User Abuse

Microsoft imposed the limits because it claimed some Office 365 users were abusing the unlimited offer. The OneDrive team explained in a blog post  last month that in some instances, consumers were storing in excess of 75 TB or 14,000 times the average. 

Microsoft clearly miscalculated the reaction the changes would generate. By last weekend nearly 75,000 users had signed an online petition on the OneDrive user forum demanding that Microsoft reverse the decision. 

Many of the comments attached to the petition are not the kind of things that any software company wants to hear:

Learning Opportunities

On Twitter, the reactions were equally vocal.

In his blog post, Pearce stressed that Microsoft was not backing down, even though that’s exactly what it looks like to everyone else.

Some users are still not buying it. Since Pearce’s post appeared a few days ago, many users have continued to express their unhappiness. 

While Microsoft’s position on this may seem reasonable in light of cases where people were uploading entire digital libraries into OneDrive, it’s still a major PR mess that is unlikely to be forgotten.