HalfDrive

By now, everyone's heard that Microsoft has reduced OneDrive storage allowances, eliminating unlimited storage in favor of a 1 TB limit for Office 365 subscribers, reducing the basic quota to 5 GB from 15 GB, and wiping out the 100 GB and 200 GB paid options. Apparently, they were surprised when people assumed that unlimited meant unlimited, calling it "abuse." Um, no. People using what they were told they could have is not abuse.That being said, they're mostly shooting themselves in the foot with this one, as most ordinary people probably don't use more than 1 TB anyway. Having that terabyte does, however, require that they be subscribers to Office 365. Most probably aren't; they do, however, need someplace to store the photos, music files, etc. that won't fit on the limited storage space on their Lumias, Surfaces, etc. You know, the kind of thing that Microsoft has been saying, "Don't worry, you've got 15 GB of free space on OneDrive for all that." Right. It's not clear how this latest move will help those customers, or how it enhances Microsoft's ability to be a "devices and services company," but I guess that's their business.

What's my business is what I use. Coincident with this self-inflicted wound, I've been looking around for ways to save a few bucks. High at the top of my list of things to take a second look at is the $99 a year I spend on Office 365. Of course, that is also where my 1 TB on OneDrive comes from.

Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore the following:

  • I'm an Amazon Prime member, so my 10 GB of photos gets stored for free on Amazon Cloud Drive
  • Amazon's been doing a great job hosting my music collection, for what it's worth
  • Dropbox charges the same $99 annually for 1 TB, and that doesn't give me Office, but storage is their freaking business, it works more smoothly, and they're unlikely to reduce quotas
  • Microsoft keeps [email protected]#$%ing up what was a pretty compelling experience

About that last item, here's what I mean:

  • Whatever its faults, Windows 8/8.1 was a fresh take on a touch interface, and on touch equipment it worked well. Windows 10 drags those same devices back to a desktop-oriented paradigm if they have a screen size of 8 inches or larger. WTF?
  • Windows Phone was a unique and new UI with some neat features like the People Hub, but they killed off the hub paradigm for Windows 10 phones, taking away a unique selling point.
  • Microsoft purchase of Nokia's phone business resulted in more than a year's worth of mediocre, low-end hardware when what they needed was a flagship.
  • Windows 10 brings with it the death of the placeholder functionality that was the single best thing about SkyDrive/OneDrive.

The point here is that I've pretty much lost faith that Microsoft is actually going to get their s**t together and carry through with their promises.

Another, equally important point is that I feel like a damn fool. I've been preaching the virtues of the reformed Microsoft to anyone who will listen for the last few years, and they've been systematically proving that my optimism was misplaced. Like most people, I don't appreciate that.

So, this leaves me with a quandary. Do I keep throwing money at Microsoft for a service that is less than stellar, or do I bite the bullet and start migrating elsewhere?

The first thing to consider is whether I'm getting value for money by paying Microsoft that $99 a year. I'm getting the latest Office, but I'm not sure that's such a great deal when I can get a fully licensed copy of Office 2016 Professional through my employer's Home Use Program for a measly ten bucks. True, that's a one-time deal, but how often do you upgrade your office suite? At work (a major multinational corporation whose name you would recognize), we're still using Office 2010 and it works just fine.

So if we take Office out of the equation, we're looking at paying Dropbox the same amount of money for the same amount of storage space. You might say that it's a wash, but my experience is that Dropbox works more smoothly with fewer errors than OneDrive. Therefore, that's a win for Dropbox (Note: I'm not even going to consider Google Drive, because I don't trust Google with my stuff, and that's non-negotiable. I'm not considering iCloud because I'm a PC user at home, and Apple software on PCs is usually a bucket of hurt that I don't need).

I also have Amazon Prime, so I can back up my photos to Amazon Cloud Drive for the low, low price of free. And, of course, I can also back them up to Dropbox for good measure. Do I trust Amazon? Mostly. They've been doing a good job with my music collection, and I've had backup files on Amazon S3 for years now, so I am confident they won't lose my stuff. That being said, I'm going to keep my e-books backed up to Dropbox, because I want those stored somewhere out of their reach for what should be obvious reasons.

All of the foregoing is why I've spent the last couple of days upgrading to Dropbox Pro and moving my files from OneDrive (and moving my photos to Amazon). I will admit that I didn't see this coming. I really thought that I'd settled on a long-term storage solution. But, as Paul Thurrott said yesterday:

It's time to start comparing cloud storage services again, to start considering backup strategies yet again—and seriously, thanks a lot, Microsoft, what I really want to do is constantly reevaluate stuff that should just sit there and [email protected]#king work_.

Yep.Also, as a side note, this marks the official end of my previous philosophy of picking a platform and using the native services. That was obviously the incorrect strategy. From now on, I'm choosing services carefully, opting for the single-focus alternatives where they exist. No more jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none services for me.

I do occasionally learn, sometimes—as is the case now—the hard way.