Microsoft rushed to kill a key feature because a 'major publication' was about to publish a negative article

Satya NadellaDan Taylor/Heisenberg MediaMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft rushed to kill unlimited OneDrive storage because “a major publication was going to print something that was very damaging and was not true,” according to Chris Capossela, the company’s chief marketing officer.

The comments came during an interview on Windows Weekly, a podcast dedicated to Microsoft that is hosted by Paul Thurrot, Mary Jo Foley, and Leo LaPorte. WinBeta was the first to spot the admission.

Microsoft initially promised unlimited OneDrive storage, meaning that any user who paid for the high-end version of the service could store anything they wanted, no matter how big. However, the decision was recanted after some users started taking advantage of the unlimited claim. According to Microsoft, one user was storing 75 terabytes (75 thousand gigabytes) worth of data.

Giving anyone and everyone unlimited storage was, for Microsoft, an appealing idea but the economics did not work out.

“If anyone had seen the maths no one would have questioned the decision we made,” said Capossela. “The economics were totally unsustainable.”

However, over 70,000 users complained and Microsoft backtracked on its new plan and offered more storage for a lower price.

“The way we did communication was very rushed because a major publication was going to print something that was very damaging and was not true so we felt like we had to get in front of it,” said Caposella. “We just weren’t ready.”

Caposella does not elaborate on what the “major publication” was — for what it’s worth the Wall Street Journal broke the story about the recall of unlimited storage — and did not say what it would have been about, beyond OneDrive.

“We had given ourselves a couple more months to get everything lined up [for removing unlimited storage] so we could do it all in one fell swoop,” he said. “We were just not ready.”

The decision to rush the announcement was made by Caposella and Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s communications chief. “Frank and I just couldn’t let [the negative story] happen,” he said. “We just didn’t do a good enough job…to beat the story and get the communications in the shape they needed to be.”

The three presenters of Windows Weekly were, for a moment, left in silence by the admission. LaPorte then went on to congratulate Capossela on his honesty discussing the issue.

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