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Microsoft is making notable improvements to its storage offerings for its OneDrive cloud-based service. The company is announcing today that OneDrive storage at the free tier will be more than doubled, Office 365 storage will see a major increase, and that there will be storage price drops across the board. Here are the three main announcements in more detail:

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  • Currently, OneDrive’s free tier includes 7GB of storage. This storage is accessible via the OneDrive apps on iOS, Android, Windows, and on the web, and much like Dropbox and the upcoming iCloud Drive, it can store files of all kinds. Now, this 7GB is moving to 15GB. Microsoft says it is making the switch to 15GB now that people store more files in the cloud and now that images and videos taken on smartphones consume much more space.
  • A bigger shift is occurring on the Office 365 storage side. That service is moving from 20GB of storage to 1TB of storage per user. This 1TB tier costs the same $6.99 per month for an individual user or $9.99 for a 5 person family plan (which still provides 1TB per family member). This move from 20GB to 1TB is a significant boost, but it’s unlikely that most people even have ~1000GB worth of Office files to store. Office 365 keeps Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents in sync between the iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, and web Office apps.
  • For those customers who do not want an Office 365 subscription at the aforementioned prices, users can now tack on additional storage to a OneDrive account in increments of 100GB or 200GB. 100GB is $1.99/month and 200GB is $3.99/month. The change here is price decreases: 100GB used to cost $7.49 per month and 200GB previously was $11.49 each month.

These price changes will be rolling out sometime in the next month for users. These changes are significant in light of Apple’s upcoming iCloud Drive storage service, which brings Apple into the existing world of OneDrive and Dropbox- storage services. This also comes at a time in which Apple is opening up iCloud to become a cloud-based photo library service. For comparison, iCloud Drive will cost the same as OneDrive going forward for 200GB of storage per month, while iCloud’s free tier is 5GB versus Microsoft’s 15GB. iCloud goes to 20GB of storage for only $0.99 per month. Those iCloud prices combine the photo library feature, iCloud Drive, and all other existing iCloud services…

Pricing aside, each cloud service has its own benefits. iCloud is heavily integrated into the Apple ecosystem, so it is simple to setup and use with iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, Macs, and Apple TVs. Likewise, OneDrive is well integrated into Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. Microsoft hardware users will benefit considerably from using OneDrive, while Apple customers will have the most seamless experience with using iCloud. Unlike Apple, Microsoft is pushing its OneDrive cloud service on competing hardware platforms, and with similar pricing structures to Apple, it will be up to each user to decide if they truly need OneDrive in addition to iCloud on their devices. With such similar pricing, the main differentiator seems to be a dedicated OneDrive application for accessing files on iOS as well as the Office apps, which some Apple users still prefer over iWork.