Microsoft OneDrive really, really wants to be your only drive

There's no question that Microsoft is acting strongly to eliminate Box, Dropbox, and all other cloud storage competitors

You may have read Galen Gruman's insightful column this week on the cloud storage war and its accompanying casualties: Box, Dropbox, ShareFile, and other storage services. His take was that Microsoft, Google, and Apple weren't purposely trying to kill these cloud storage companies "as much as trying to force users to stay in their own ecosystems by restricting their compatibility with third-party services."

Although I appreciate Gruman giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, I think he was too kind. Microsoft's announcement this week shows clearly what its agenda is: to make OneDrive the only cloud storage offering left. Microsoft should call it OnlyDrive.

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According to an announcement from Microsoft's John Case entitled "Thinking outside the box" (get the reference to Box and Dropbox here?), OneDrive for Business now offers the following:

  • A default storage increase from 25GB to 1TB (yes, terabyte)
  • A 1TB allocation per user as part of the Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions; several Office 365 ProPlus plans were already at that level, but now all are
  • Migration assistance from existing storage services to OneDrive for Business; Microsoft provided no details on what this would actually entail, however

OneDrive for Business is also available as a stand-alone service at a lower price than many of its competitors. Today, Dropbox's 500GB Pro offering (its biggest online) costs $499 per year per user, or $41.58 per month. An Office 365 ProPlus subscription, which includes Office, Exchange, and OneDrive for Business, costs $144 per year, or $12 per month. You can purchase OneDrive for Business (which provides cloud storage and access to the Office Online apps) as a stand-alone service for $60 per year, or $5 per month. And to drive home how much it wants you to switch to OnDrive for Business, Microsoft has halved its cost to $2.50 per month until September 2014.

Microsoft's announcement said, "As important as robust file sync/share is, we believe it's only useful if it's part of a holistic and comprehensive solution for team-based productivity and collaboration." It integrates with Office, is compatible with everything running Windows (smartphones, tablets, and computers), has partial integration with other platforms (OS X, iOS, and Android), and is part of the new personalized smart search through Office Graph. All of this is meant to keep you connected to your data and to get you to stay in the Microsoft ecosystem rather than going to a third party.

Microsoft might very well succeed in pulling people into the OneDrive ecosystem because of the generous cloud storage offering -- 1TB! -- and then keep them ensnared through the rest of the integration.

Microsoft's announcement was telling in another regard. It said, "The cloud is about breaking down walls between people and information. Not building a new set of islands in the sky." The word "azure" means sky blue, and I believe it's no accident that Microsoft's cloud platform is called Azure. Microsoft wants to take the whole dang sky! Likewise, the OneDrive name implies more than "you only need one drive -- ours!" It implies "There is only one drive -- ours!"

Obviously, Apple's iCloud and Google's Drive aren't going anywhere soon. Brand loyalty, their own ability to increase storage, and their own ecosystem approaches to keeping folks in their sandbox will help them. But third-party cloud storage providers like Box, Dropbox, and the dozens of smaller providers are certainly reeling from Microsoft's announcement this week. They'll need to come up with a good reason why folks should stick with them.

This story, "Microsoft OneDrive really, really wants to be your only drive," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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