Realizing that business users and consumers alike are producing far more digital content than a few years ago, Microsoft has increased the amount of free OneDrive cloud storage available to Office 365 subscribers by 500 times.
Today, OneDrive comes with seven gigabytes of free storage, and Office 365 comes with 20 gigabytes of OneDrive storage. As of today, that's changed: Microsoft will increase the free quota to 15 Gbytes, and OneDrive subscribers will receive a whopping 1 terabyte with their subscription. The changes will roll out over the next month.
"We chose that quota few years ago, and frankly, times have changed," said Angus Logan, the head of product marketing for OneDrive, of the old limits. "The amount of storage that people are needing now, the amount of digital storage they're spinning off, is quite a bit. Instead of recording 50 Kbytes of notes, I could end up recording 500 megabytes of video with my notes. Or everytime I take my Lumia and push that hardware button it uploads 10 megabytes to the cloud. It's just a lot more than we needed before."
By comparison, Logan noted, Dropbox offers 2 Gbytes for free, albeit with incentives that can raise that dramatically. Google's services also offer 15 Gbytes of free storage, spread out over Google+, Picasa, and Gmail. And although Google recently cut the prices of its paid storage options for Google Apps customers to 1 terabyte for $9.99 per month, it only offers 30 Gbytes for free.
"And you don't get Office," Logan added.
Microsoft looked at its aggregated, anonymous collection of OneDrive users and found that less than three quarters of its users have 15 Gbytes of accumulated data in their account. "Take that and all the data on their smartphones and we felt that 15 Gbytes was a pretty reasonable number."
A bid to sell Office 365
If the discrepancy between the storage offered to non-paying Microsoft customers and those that buy OneDrive seems a little wide, well, the idea is to lure customers into becoming paid OneDrive customers. The same offer applies to those who pay for the personal edition at $6.99 per month as well as its other paid plans.
In fact, OneDrive for Business options get the same deal: a bundled terabyte of OneDrive with a paid subscription, Microsoft said in April.
"Really we're trying to change the game from selling storage to selling productivity subscriptions," Logan said.
And if you still don't want Office 365, Microsoft will charge you $1.99 per month for an additional 100 GB of OneDrive storage, about the same price point as Google.
Microsoft has practically thrown storage at consumers and business customers in 2014, using it as a hook to lure new business. Unlike Google, each photo and song you upload will still count against your cap, however. (In case you're wondering, if you delete a photo on your phones--assuming that it's already uploaded to OneDrive--the photo will remain in the cloud.)
But like the freedom T-Mobile is offering to its customers to let them stream music without cost to their data plan, the additional storage is inching up into an area where consumers, especially Office 365 subscribers, simply don't have to worry about having enough available cloud storage. That's a relief, even if you're paying for it.