Microsoft sends OneDrive URL upload feature to the cloud graveyard

Preview's promise ends in digital dust

Microsoft has abruptly pulled a feature from OneDrive that allows users to upload files to the cloud storage service directly from a URL.

The feature turned up as a preview in 2021 and was intended for scenarios "where the file contents aren't available, or are expensive to transfer," according to Microsoft.

It was particularly useful for mobile users, for whom uploading files directly through their apps could be costly. Much better to simply point OneDrive at a given URL and let it handle the upload itself.

However, the experimental feature never made it past the consumer version of OneDrive. It also didn't fit with Microsoft's "vision for OneDrive as a cloud storage service that syncs your files across devices."

Indeed, the idea of hosing data into OneDrive from a remote source sits at odds with the file synchronization model being championed by Microsoft and conveniently available from macOS and Windows.

Microsoft, which reported another bumper set of financial results earlier this year, complained the feature had high maintenance costs and low usage. So support will be terminated before the end of this month, March 29. After that, the feature "will stop working without any warning any time."

Presumably, the beige box in the corner of the OneDrive development office – or, more likely, Azure resources – will then be repurposed for something Copilot-related, as seems to be the way at Microsoft these days.

The abrupt swing of the axe is another warning for users to be wary of anything from Microsoft prefixed with the word "Preview." While developers have long learned to be cautious about products labeled as such, the ever-decreasing attention span within Redmond has begun to attract scrutiny from other users, concerned about the company's habit of marking its territory with a preview that never makes it into General Availability.

Microsoft is currently obsessed with AI. Anything that doesn't fit that remit or can't be twisted to do so is at risk of a trip to the back of the barn, accompanied by a sad-faced engineer and a shotgun. Slap on the Preview prefix and the risk is amplified. Perhaps if they'd called it Copilot for Uploads, things might have gone differently. ®

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