Monday, April 25, 2016

1634 Microsoft Raises the Rent

You, yes you, the one running Windows on your computer. You didn’t know you were a tenant, did you? Or that Microsoft was your landlord.

Well, time to wake up.

How is this possible, you ask? How can a tech corporation that is so critical to your devices be your landlord?  Two ways.

Way one:  when you run Windows, you’re doing it under license.  You don’t own it.  You own the right to use it.  Ever read that “license?”  No?  Well, no one else has either.  But if CEO Satya Nadella wakes up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decides he doesn’t like you because you run Android or (perish forbid!) Apple’s OS he’s free to suspend or even revoke your license.

That’s probably never happened, but it could.  

Then there’s way two: something you have along with that license, something you probably never heard of… Onedrive.

While you may never have heard of it, you use it.  You’re using it this very moment.  Onedrive is micro’s “cloud.” And it puts stuff you save in it.  Lots of stuff. How?  Who knows?  But it’s there. You can check.  Go ahead.  It’s part of Windows 8 and 10. And some lucky ducks have it on Windows 7.

So what, you say?  It sounds like something handy in case your hard drive blows up?  Well, yes. It is. Sort of.

Step back a moment and think about this: you get a letter from the electric company. The headline is “Devour Power Proposes Changes in Residential Rates.”

You know without further reading that your bill is going up.

So the other day, Microsoft sends an email to all its tenants -- you included -- with the subject line “Changes to Storage Limits. The amount of free storage is changing.”

Changing?  You think “oh, goodie.  More space.”  No, licensee, not more.  Less. A lot less. Two thirds less. The current allotment of free space is 15 gigabites. The new limit will be 5 GB.  And “we’re discontinuing the 15 GB camera roll bonus.”

“It was a difficult decision,” says the MSFT Ministry of Truth.” And it apologized for the inconvenience.  That’s always good. Apologies for inconvenience show the cuddly side of a corporate carnivore or a public one for that matter.

It’s time to remind ourselves that there’s a difference between an inconvenience and a disruption. A run of the mill traffic jam is an inconvenience.  Running out of peanut butter on the first day of a new school year is an inconvenience.  

Radical changes to your lease on Onedrive is a disruption for those who use it on purpose and a head scratcher for those who don’t know they do.

It’s like your real landlord announcing he’s creating another apartment on your floor by taking away your dining room, second bedroom and the half bath. Oh, and your rent remains the same.

Of course, there are ways to use more space, just not for free.  And anything that once was free and now isn’t… is a rent increase.

--Hail and good luck to Jim Micklaszewski, NBC’s Chief Pentagon correspondent who is retiring. No other reporter has ever covered that beat with his clarity and insight. It’s hard to imagine a report from the pentagon without tossing to Mik.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

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