back to article One Sync to rule them all: How Microsoft plans to fix OneDrive

Microsoft has revealed details of how it plans to fix the problematic file synchronisation between PCs and its online storage services. Windows Client VP Chris Jones notes that Windows currently has three sync engines and two online services – OneDrive consumer and OneDrive for Business – each based on different technology. …

  1. Irongut

    You liked the crappy picture so much you posted it TWICE!?!?!

    I'm really getting fed up of the huge, pointless and unrelated pictures at the start of every article. Its getting to the stage I'm going block soon.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I'm going block soon

      It's a distinct improvement if you do.

    2. Craig 2

      That stage has already been reached and it's a huge improvement.

    3. Pedo Bear

      I blocked it ages ago although I'm thinking about dropping this from my feed full stop as I am sick of seeing the words slurp, slurping and gobbles all the time.

      Such childish words.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        "Such childish words." Says Pedo Bear.

    4. MrRtd

      This is one of those web-trends that are useless and user-unfriendly, just adding unnecessary scrolling. Most often the photo's are of no practical use and add nothing to the message. I don't even bother looking at them anymore.

  2. Tim 11


    I've struggled with the flakiness of OneDrive for business and its predecessors for several years. The most recent problem is that it now doesn't work against document libraries which require check-out/check-in (this is by design with the latest update).

    Now it becomes apparent that this change was probably the first step along the way to getting rid of ODFB altogether and replacing it with the consumer OneDrive. Assuming that the new unified OneDrive doesn't support check-out/check-in either, that will be another big nail in the coffin of anyone who wants to use SharePoint or office 365 as a document management system.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: check-out?

      The real genius is how office365, office, sharepoint, Onedrive and even lync refuse to play nicely.

      Click on a document in Sharepoint, opens in office365, click on edit, opens it then says, "this needs to checkout", click checkout, says this can only be done in word, click to download, get a warning that this might damage your computer, click ok, Click to edit again,

      Work on doocument

      save, don't even think about saving the document to onedrive


      It might checkin depending on the phase of the moon and the I-ching.

      Check status in sharepoint, it may or may not show it as checked out to you.

      Try and send document by lync to somebody else because they can't get the sharepoint "allegedly locked" version.

      In the end we have created a wonderful collaboration tool of all sitting in a group around a single laptop reading the document together. We are thinking calling it "reading circle" or "watch with mother"

    2. Shady

      ...who wants to use SharePoint or office 365 as a document management system

      ... who the fuck wants to use SharePoint or office 365 as a document management system?


  3. An0n C0w4rd

    "Why did Microsoft ever think that two different cloud storage services with nearly the same name, but different clients, was a sensible idea?"

    I guess you've never worked in marketing. Who cares what the technology is, must have a good name that people will recognise!

    Which is, of course, why the marketing people will be first to be shot when the revolution comes.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      It's also exactly what they've done with Windows 8(.1), even more so in 10 where Windows Phone becomes Windows, and their app store which is really 3 in one.

      Then you get inevitable complains why the same thing which is really several different things doesn't work the same way depending on platform, form factor, etc...

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      It worked so well for outlook...

  4. Vince

    OneDrive (which I use mostly to sync photos from my Lumia) does generally work. And actually the "placeholder" feature is useful particularly on my laptop - because it has a smallish SSD and I have a few hundred GB of photos - especially when saving the raw 38 megapixel image files.

    The only annoyance/bug/whatever is that it does take ages to fetch the full image when you request it - even if you're on a really meaty connection - so I assume it's an MS issue in the first place since everything else is zippy.

    So now they'll launch W10 without it. So will I have everything forcibly downloaded, or just nothing at all including placeholders?

    Microsoft giveth and taketh away...

  5. phuzz Silver badge


    I bet we're the only company waiting for a Linux client for OneDrive aren't we?

    (our customer uses Office365 for email, but currently they're using Dropbox for their files, but O365 already comes with free space, and integrates nicely into their email etc.)

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Linux

      Nope, I'd like to be able to sync my Office 365 stuff with Debian. I'd also like to attach my Office 365 account to my user account on my Windows 8.1 tablet.

      I'm buggered both ways.

    2. Michael

      Re: Linux

      Nope, we have been forced to use office 365 as other departments are using it. Only, no Linux support so we need to either restart into a windows machine, run a VM or remote desktop onto a Windows PC to work on documents or browse the random locations where others have shared files.

      The web interface is a joke for document editing.

      The fact that you can't selectively sync files is painful to deal with.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Linux

        Not sure if this will help you but in terms of Emails I have used ExQuilla plugin for Thunderbird. Provides brilliant support for Exchange on Thunderbird.

  6. Scary Biscuits

    OneDrive needs to behave more like a cache

    There're actually six sync engines if you count the Office 365 synchroniser. It's a shame that there is such confusion at MS that even their senior managers can't keep track of how many different versions of essentially the same thing different teams are maintaining.

    The solution to this ought to be to have just one version, embedded in the Windows OS and as an app elsewhere) and scrap all the others.

    Secondly, it needs to operate like a traditional cache and not as something that the user always has to be aware of.

    When I installed OneDrive it immediately slowed down my system because instead of getting files from my very fast SSD it went first to the online version. To avoid this I still have to manually make sure I open the local version.

    The placeholders are brilliant and work well on my Nokia 2520 tablet and 1020 phone. However, again there is too much user intervention required to manage this. Many apps in full W8.1 crash or just do nothing if you try to open a placeholder and you have to manually download it first. Applying a cache philosophy would make the whole thing more transparent to both the user and the app, use fast local storage when available and slower cloud storage when not.

    Office 365's live collaboration tools need to be disabled by default for the 99.99% of people who will never use them. The problem with making sure that the cache has the required data when the machine state changes (e.g. when on an airplane) is also easily solved.

    Microsoft also need to address the issue that such poorly architectured software made it into release versions of Windows 8.1/Office365.

  7. Tom Betz

    If this means One Drive for Business....

    ... will finally allow me to locate my sync folder outside my profile (finally making it compatible with roaming profiles) as my personal One Drive does now, it will finally make it usable in my organization.

    Now, if it allows me to locate my sync folder on a network share, it will be perfect.

  8. LDS Silver badge

    Good MS is going to remove Ozzie heritage...

    .... if you want to look at how to write good software you have to look elsewhere from Notes & C.

  9. IHateWearingATie

    A special place in hell...

    ... is already reserved for the OneDrive sync designers.

    This improvement will mearly make their eternal punishment slightly less agonising.

    (It has got better, but still catches me out sometimes)

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    How did they make this so complicated?

    Dropbox is so simple and trouble free; carbonite usually backs up a whole system (well the user directories) but can be pointed at a single location, also simple and trouble-free. Several other products also give you the "Here's a drive letter (or directory) that syncs online between your PC(s) and tablet(s)" without bugs and drama.

    I simply do not understand how Microsoft made this so complicated and managed to make it buggy? And what is there deal with giving unrelated products the same name? They did this back in the day with Outlook versus Outlook Express, and now renaming "Microsoft Groove" (or I guess Microsoft Office Groove) to Onedrive for Business? I'm not a fan of getting a different "edition" of a product just to find out it's a totally unrelated product with seperate features, behavior, and bugs.

    I wouldn't want to get a "pro" version of rsync and find out that it's robocopy (no insult to robocopy, just saying I'd expect a theoretical "rsync pro" to be rsync-based.)

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Re: How did they make this so complicated?

      I'd like to know if it's compatible with WinRT :-)

  11. bed

    I will believe it when I see it

    It is not clear to me whether the plan is to combine the two client engines into one application; double the size with four times the problems or unify the server side so only one client is needed - but then breaks sharepoint functionality. However, it would be nice to be able to have the functionality of the domestic version (slide shows, embedded video, pdf opening etc.) in the business version because, if that was to happen I might actually use some more of the 1TB available - currently languishing at 1.5GB.

  12. chekri

    This is a regression

    I see that the Reg took in the full puff piece without noticing the key f#ck up Microsoft is making here.

    In Windows 8.1 OneDrive has a feature called smart files, the file is displayed in File Explorer whether it is stored on the computer or not. If you attempt to open a file that is stored only in OneDrive, File Explorer retrieves the file from "the cloud" as a file operation.

    This greatly simplified the storage of online and offline files, particularly on space constrained devices.

    The rub is that MS is totally removing this feature, without any regard for what users want - a mini-Sinofsky event if you will.

    On the Windows 10 Preview this has over 900 votes and 500 comments for it to be restored as a feature, considering that the audience is Windows 10 alpha testers, this is a significant volume of users.

    1. Vince

      Re: This is a regression

      The rub is that they do mention it, that's the thing they call place holders. The thing they quote an MS rep on....

    2. joed

      Re: This is a regression

      Exactly the reason I haven't bothered with beta testing of MS products since 8.1 Why, our feedback does not matter anyway.

      Resistance is useless.

  13. Glamb

    How about a basic feature like enabling long file paths. If you're using a TB of storage wouldn't you expect to have lots of nested files? It can't even backup a music library because of special character limitations inherent in some song titles. So far it's just a cheaper crappier version of dropbox that breaks over rather simple issues.

  14. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Hello there is a problem with my computer

    I click on One Drive and it takes me to sharepoint.

  15. Law

    I liked one drive on windows

    The android and win phone versions were annoying though. Last time I tried you couldn't select a folder to download, just single files. Pointless really.

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