Microsoft is getting stingy with online storage. The company just cut the free space it offers through its OneDrive service by two-thirds, making it the second major company to retreat from a consumer cloud-storage boom that tempted users with price cuts and ever-larger free offers.
Starting next year, Microsoft will cut its free option to 5 gigabytes, down from 15 gigabytes now. Microsoft says the new allotment is enough for about 6,600 Office documents or 1,600 photos. Earlier this year, Amazon eliminated a free 5 gigabyte storage plan, although it still offers that amount to those who pay for its Prime loyalty program.
Microsoft is also effectively doubling prices for some storage plans. It will charge USD 2 a month for 50 gigabytes of storage, including the free allotment, rather than the 100 gigabytes it currently offers at that price. The company is eliminating a USD 4-a-month, 200 gigabyte plan.
Subscribers to Microsoft's Office 365, which offers word processing, spreadsheet and other apps starting at USD 7 a month, will now be limited to 1 terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, of storage. The company is killing off an "unlimited" option that it said a "small number of users" had abused by backing up numerous personal computers and storing entire movie collections.
As with similar services from Google, Dropbox and others, OneDrive can store just about any type of files. Apps can automatically sync what you store on a device. Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has emphasised mobile and online services such as OneDrive over traditional sales of Windows and Office software for personal computers.
The company has offered services for free as a way to hook people into using other services, such as Microsoft's ad-supported Bing search engine and the Office 365 subscription. Microsoft did not explain why it was cutting back its storage offer, or why it advertised an "unlimited" option if actually using large amounts of storage posed a problem.
The company declined to comment beyond a blog post it published last night. Microsoft says it will give people time -- up to a year in some cases -- to remove files that exceed its new limits.