In October, Google announced that they would let customers who had a current enterprise agreement (EA) with Microsoft to use Google Apps for Work for free until the EA expires. At that point, the customer is expected to begin paying Google the regular subscription fees ($5 per month per user for the productivity apps or $10 per user for unlimited storage).
This is a daily opinion column written by Lowell Heddings, the founder of How-To Geek, featuring his take on the latest in the world of technology.
Microsoft has great engineering teams that can put together top-notch technology — Windows 10 is a very good operating system, the Surface line is the best hardware you can get, and Office 365 makes a lot of sense. But they continually shoot themselves in the foot and make their customers angry. Why? We have no idea, but we’re going to complain about it anyway.
A little over a year ago, Microsoft announced with great fanfare that all Office 365 subscribers would get ‘unlimited’ OneDrive storage. Tonight, months after an executive shakeup, the company says it has no intention of keeping those promises.
Scrooge McDuck is now in charge of Microsoft’s consumer cloud division.
Not that long ago, I had asked why we are still paying for Dropbox, when the competition is so much better — OneDrive comes bundled with Office 365, and they were offering unlimited storage along with Office for the same exact price as Dropbox charges. But now Microsoft decided to yank their unlimited plan and force everybody back to a 1TB offering — and they even reduced their free plan from 15 GB down to 5 GB, despite the fact that Google Drive is still offering 15 GB for free.
At some point Microsoft needs to learn that building a great product and having your customers spread the word is the best way to build your brand, and get people to use your product. We’ve been recommending OneDrive for a while despite some bugs in the client because it was a great value. Are we still going to recommend it? Probably, but we are going to have to use an asterisk every time to mention that Microsoft might pull a fast one like they did this time.
Windows 10’s Reputation Has Suffered Because of Microsoft’s Failings
They also did the same thing with Windows 10 — they built a great operating system in a short time frame that has tons of benefits over Windows 7, and especially over the lousy Windows 8. They brought back the Start Menu, and although we’re not real happy with how it turned out, at least they finally relented on their Metro strategy and realized that people with desktops and laptops actually want a desktop operating system. Windows 10 is faster, more secure, and has a ton of great features that make it a top-notch operating system that is continually being upgraded.
And then they decided to do really dumb things like add a ridiculous amount of data collection — what many critics call “spying” — and not give people an easy option to turn it off. Even business customers can’t turn it all off unless they get the Enterprise version, and the off switch wasn’t enabled at launch. Don’t get us started on all the other reasons why people say it’s terrible.
Early adopters are the people that immediately upgrade to the latest thing, and they are generally power users. If you don’t give them what they want, you’re going to have a bad time trying to convince the rest of the world to upgrade to your product. It certainly seems to be true in this case — most of the help requests we’ve seen to disable the Windows 10 upgrade are from people who are also saying they don’t want to be spied on. And the Windows 10 adoption rate appears to be slowing down even while Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 down people’s throats whether they want it or not.
Or Maybe it All Makes Sense
Perhaps Microsoft knows that the future is not a Windows computer in every home. People use their smartphone for almost everything these days, and with Google and Apple adding “desktop” features like multi-tasking and keyboard shortcuts into their mobile operating systems, it’s only a matter of time before mobile operating systems are capable enough for the majority of home users and new form factors with keyboards take over the home.
If you think of smartphones as a super-fast computer that you carry in your pocket, Windows is already well behind Android and iOS in total market share. Many people don’t have, or need, a desktop computer in their house, since you can do most things on your phone.
Maybe it makes more sense for Microsoft to focus on their excellent cloud services offerings, and improving Office 365 and OneDrive for business use cases, since that’s where their growth is coming from. They have embraced the mobile-first lifestyle by creating (great) apps for iPhone and Android before bothering to make them for Windows Phone or even their Surface line. These are all moves that make sense if you don’t think Windows has a lot of future in the home.
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