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​Microsoft extends olive branch after OneDrive cloud storage storm

One month after shrinking OneDrive storage limits and completely axing "unlimited" cloud storage, Microsoft says it's sorry and is offering to give something back. But users will still need to opt-in, and the bonuses won't last forever.

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft has back-pedalled on cuts it made to OneDrive cloud storage limits last month, giving back some of the data allowances it was set to take away and apologising for putting the blame on users for excessive use.

Customers will still need to opt-in to keep their bonus storage, though, and the changes will expire after a year.

The company confirmed the changes in a post on its OneDrive user forum, offering users "impacted" by the changes the opportunity to get additional storage for a limited time, and the chance to opt-in to keep free storage bonuses when OneDrive plans are overhauled early next year.

The mea culpa comes a month after Microsoft announced major changes to its cloud storage, halving storage limits for paid plans (whilst keeping the price unchanged), reducing limits on free plans from 15GB to 5GB, ditching its 15GB camera roll storage bonus and completely scrapping 'unlimited' storage for all users.

The company is hoping the move will appease customers and curry some favour in an already competitive cloud storage market.

Microsoft is up against rivals such as Dropbox, Google Drive and the Apple-centric iCloud, all hoping to be the one place that users can store all their files to get cloud-based access from anywhere. While each provider offers free storage, these companies generate their revenue through paid plans, and storage limits are king in deciding where customers are willing to hang their hat (and their files).

But Microsoft's group program manager Douglas Pearce came hat in hand to customers, apologising for recent changes to OneDrive plans and the way they were communicated. In his post on the OneDrive user forum, Pearce said "the announcement came across as blaming customers for using our product" and Microsoft was "genuinely sorry for the frustration this decision has caused."

That blame referred to Microsoft calling out "a small number of users" on unlimited plans for "extreme backup scenarios," in some cases, storing up to 75TB of data in the cloud.

While Microsoft initially set about curtailing use, Pearce said paying Office 365 Home, Personal, and University customers would continue to receive 1TB of storage, and users who received additional storage as part of Microsoft's unlimited offer would keep this limit for at least 12 months.

To make good with disgruntled customers of the free service, anyone with more than 5GB of content stored in the cloud (under the former 15GB free storage limit) will receive a free Office 365 Personal subscription for one year. The offer will come via email early next year and will bring with it 1TB of storage.

Finally, Microsoft is offering an opt-in for its "biggest fans" to keep their 15GB of free storage after storage limits are cut early next year (and to keep their 15GB camera roll bonus, if they currently have that in place). And what constitutes being a fan? Going to the OneDrive website before the end of January 2016 and logging in to get the bonus.

While the changes may go some of the way to pacifying customers upset about the storage cuts, they still only go part of the way to clawing back the cuts made in November. What's more, customers will need to be existing heavy users to take advantage of the bonuses, or opt in for an increase. There's also no word on whether or not the changes will last longer than the single year.

Microsoft declined to comment.