Microsoft showcased its Windows 8 Release to Manufacturing build last week. Amid the excitement, VentureBeat's Sean Ludwig took the opportunity to check in on Microsoft's updated SkyDrive cloud storage service and its rather strict policies regarding user uploaded content.
The article picks up on reports from February 2011, where German photographer Dirk Salm found his Windows Live account restricted after Microsoft objected to the content of four image files Salm had stored in a SkyDrive folder.
The problems with Microsoft's policies, as VentureBeat maps them out, amount to three key issues.
- Terminology in Microsoft's online services Code of Conduct forbids ambiguously-defined content like "full or partial human nudity" and "vulgarity."
- Because SkyDrive uses your Windows Live log-in, any restrictions will apply account-wide, blocking you from other services like Outlook, Xbox Live, and Office.
- Windows 8 hooks deeply into both SkyDrive and Windows Live-based services, pushing you to tie more and more services and personal data to a single account that Microsoft can shut off under unclear terms.
On request for comment, Microsoft only alluded to "internal policies in place to limit [others'] access to a user's data" and "advanced mechanisms to ensure users abide by our Code of Conduct."
Comparing the content policies of SkyDrive with those of its competitors Dropbox, Google Drive, and others, VentureBeat also found Microsoft's the most restrictive, and the only service that goes beyond restricting content in terms of generically defined (and more internationally portable) "legality."
I've reached out to Microsoft for further comment, in particular in regard to avenues of recourse for customers whose accounts have been flagged, and will update this post upon receiving a response.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson replied to my inquiry with, word-for-word, the same comment supplied to VentureBeat. I will not repost it here, not least because it answers none of my specific questions.