OneDrive for Business changes files - Microsoft's response

We asked Microsoft eight simple questions and got one response.

To accompany our story about OneDrive for Business changing documents and files without notice or trace we asked Microsoft for answers to some questions. Alas the reply came too late for the Office Watch newsletter but here it is, in full.

Our questions were:

  • Why are these changes being made?

  • What benefits are there to customers?

  • What documents are affected by these changes?

  • What identifying information is added to documents regarding the user, organization or other?

  • Can customers switch off the file changes and revert to cloud storage without file changes?

  • Why is the date modified file attribute not changed?

  • Where is the fact of these changes disclosed to customers before purchase?

  • Where are the details disclosed of the changes made?

This is the entire Microsoft response to the above eight questions:

Limited metadata is added to content to support advanced document management scenarios and preserve user experiences. Examples of this include synchronizing document properties across its parent folder to enrich discovery or updating links when a link has changed. The functionality behind this has been in the product for several releases and is designed to synchronize important metadata between a document and a Document Library including OneDrive for Business. For additional information on how these capabilities work see also

As you can see, the response is hardly a fulsome reply to the questions. The benefits to OneDrive for Business customers are only given in broad terms with no specifics. Nor is there any details given about the files changed, the type of data added etc.

According to Microsoft, and some of their apologists who have jumped to their defense, the files have been changed for years. That’s a strange argument since it means that if Microsoft does something for long enough and without their customers realizing it, then it must be OK.

As for the link to more information, that’s almost a joke in itself. The link is to a MSDN page about SharePoint 2010. There’s no mention of OneDrive for Business or even the most recent version of SharePoint. The page is titled “Document Property Promotion and Demotion” – so that’s clear . image from OneDrive for Business changes files - Microsoft

How is any reasonable person, even a knowledgeable techie, meant to know that page or anything else talking about SharePoint 2010, is in any way related to OneDrive for Business?

Most likely the people responsible for OneDrive know that there’s SharePoint technology underlying it and, for them, it’s a given.  It doesn’t occur to Microsoft that changing customers files is a problem, let alone that it needs disclosure.

It’s not changing the files that’s the problem. It’s the lack of proper disclosure. If Microsoft was ‘up front’ with customers about this, there would not be a concern or story to tell. But keeping it under wraps and then trying to excuse it with obscure references to SharePoint only make it look like they’ve got something to hide.