2015 has been a big year for Microsoft. From the largest hardware launch in the company's history to the release of Windows 10 on the desktop (mobile version any moment now), to a new Xbox One experience. Microsoft is clearly doubling down on its effort to reverse its long-held image of a dominating, but slow and increasingly irrelevant technology company, especially among the younger tech crowd. Many of its attempts have paid off handsomely, some even turning the tides on long-time competitors, while others leave customers in fits of rages, disappointment, or both.
And then there are moments where your brain just stops, your eyes go wide, mouth hang, and the only sound you can let out is either a call to the Maker or that exclamative, rhetorical question we all ask when in utter surprise and disbelief. Admittedly, for a general tech enthusiast like myself, those moments are getting fewer and further between, more the reason I remember and treasure them. Microsoft produced a few of them this year, however, and here are those moments that I think qualifies as the company's most surprising moments of the year.
Surface Book unveiling
OneDrive storage cut
It was a fine day when I woke up to the internet's outrage over Microsoft's then new alterations to the OneDrive service. At first not knowing what it was all about, continued reading took me from surprise to rage, to just pure disbelief, at which point I had to voice the rhetorical question.
Apparently, according to official words, due to some users taking advantage of the service to store unusually large amount of data, Microsoft decided to drastically cut down OneDrive Storage for all of its users. The previously much-touted unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 subscribers was suddenly no more, leaving a new 1TB limit. Even more baffling, the 15GB given free to new OneDrive users were slashed down to 5GB for all users, existing and new. The decrease was a regress to the state of OneDrive before Microsoft got serious about competition, and effectively make it more expensive than some heavily competing cloud storage service; the free year of Office 365 subscription as compensation didn't help to ease the pain. In a word, very awful.
Am I waking up to find Microsoft screwed up OneDrive *again*?
— Mary Branscombe (@marypcbuk) November 3, 2015
Reactions were, unsurprisingly, swift and negative, with users deriding Microsoft for the decision, blasting it over the company's UserVoice page, voicing rage on Reddit and the comment sections of pretty much all related posts, and even going so far as to make a Change.org petition. While Microsoft has relented
@howtogeek HOW COULD THEY NOT SEE THIS COMING? ARE THEY BLIND, STUPID, OR BOTH?
— Ed Bott (@edbott) November 3, 2015
The surprising part was not about Microsoft's decision, which is understandable, given the perceived future strain such generous offers would put on the company's cloud infrastructure, which had to be dealt with sooner than later. What baffled most was how utterly bad the company was at conveying the news, apparent from just a quick read of the official announcement. The official announcement offered only a half-hearted reasoning while expressing the cold truths without any regards for long-time users. It was a PR disaster in the making for Microsoft, which exploded, and will haunt the company's cloud storage efforts for some time.
It has been a strange, albeit exciting year for a Microsoft enthusiasts. So many new, "biggest" things have come from Redmond in 2015, some novel and game-changing, others head-scratching. Microsoft's 2015 year of news is representative of what's fun about following the world of tech, and we can't wait to see what the company will have in store for 2016.