Cloud

Microsoft renames SkyDrive to more confusing OneDrive amid legal complaint

After a trademark infringement case filed by British Sky Broadcasting over Microsoft's cloud service SkyDrive, the service has renamed OneDrive. The new name may lead to other problems.

 

microsoftonedrive_1280x720_021014.jpg
 Image: Microsoft
 

In June 2013, British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the largest pay-TV broadcaster in the United Kingdom, filed a trademark lawsuit against Microsoft concerning the name SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service offered to users of Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Xbox 360. One month later, BSkyB won its case against Microsoft, which agreed to rename the service in a timely manner. On January 27, 2014, Microsoft announced that SkyDrive is rebranded as OneDrive.

The BSkyB complaint stems from the usual branding of services from BSkyB -- that is, naming services with the word Sky, such as Sky Broadband or Sky Go, a digital streaming service. BSkyB does not provide a competing cloud storage service, though the firm acquired public-access Wi-Fi hotspot provider The Cloud in January 2011.

This is the second name change incident to hit Microsoft since the announcement of Windows 8. The first, and most visible, is the name of the oft-maligned Metro interface, which has been dubbed the "new User Interface" (among others) after trademark issues arose with German retailer Metro AG.

A protracted history of bewildering branding decisions

Microsoft's history of frequently changing branding decisions entered a new phase when Windows 8 reached the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) milestone, at which point, the Windows Live branding was abandoned, resulting in the renaming of a wide array of Microsoft products and services. The change prompted from the verdict in the BSkyB case marks the fourth name for the product now known as Microsoft OneDrive, which launched as Windows Live Folders in August 2007. Accordingly, Windows Live ID (formerly .NET Passport, itself formerly Microsoft Passport, originally introduced as Microsoft Wallet) has been renamed Microsoft account.

Microsoft's newfound focus on the word One is a byproduct of its increasingly incessant positioning of the Windows ecosystem, and by extension, the don't-call-it-Metro interface, in various products in the lives of consumers. For reference, the announcement and launch of the Xbox One, the third generation of the Xbox hardware, is a product of an apparent audacious marketing strategy that held that users would refer to it as The One as users refer to the predecessor as The 360. Instead, out of vast disapproval, the gaming press and enthusiast community have referred to it as the xbone. Accordingly, Windows 8 bears more than a passing resemblance to Windows 1.01, as noted by The Verge.

Could the new name infringe something else?

Competing cloud service: Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One, the cloud service included in the popular Linux distribution since Ubuntu 9.10, was the most visible cloud service that incorporated the word One in its name prior to the Microsoft rebranding announcement. In addition, Ubuntu One also has clients for Windows XP (and later), OS X, and Android.

At the time of this writing, there has been no public statement from Canonical, Ltd., the vendor of the popular Linux distribution, regarding the potential confusion that could arise from Microsoft's rebranding.

Web hosting and cloud service: One.com

One.com, a web hosting service established in 2002 that has since expanded to cloud services, may also have a rightful claim to recourse. The One.com Cloud Drive is a preexisting competing service to Microsoft's offerings, and works on Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android.

Like Canonical, no statement has been made regarding the potential confusion that could arise from Microsoft's rebranding.

Semantic problems inherent with the word one

While speculation on trademark infringement is interesting from a business perspective, a more pressing issue is the difficulty that end users face for what could prove to be another problem. A side effect of the versatility of the English language is that under certain circumstances "one" can be understood to describe a particular item in a class of items, such as hard drives. This, in turn, creates ambiguity when a noun immediately follows the word one, such as in OneDrive.

To illustrate the problem at hand, here is a theoretical support transcript.

Client: "I saved the accounting information on my one drive." Support: "Which drive did you save it to?" Client: "On my one drive."

This type of semantic nightmare is nothing new for Microsoft, which finally abandoned the practice of inserting the adjective My in front of words such as Documents or Pictures with the release of Windows Vista. Common support frustration about that practice (e.g., "It's in your My Documents folder, not my My Documents folder") will hopefully be put to rest later this year, as Windows XP reaches end of life on April 8th.

If a tree falls in a forest…

The state of OneDrive is an interesting conundrum for IT professionals and for enthusiasts taken to such discourses about product marketing, but for end users to notice a difference, end users must first exist. 

What is your take on the name change? What cloud provider, if any, do you use for your personal documents? Let us know in the comments.

Also read:

Note: TechRepublic, CNET, and ZDNet are CBS Interactive properties.


 

About

James Sanders is a Java programmer specializing in software as a service and thin client design, and virtualizing legacy programs for modern hardware. James is currently an education major at Wichita State University in Kansas.

39 comments
cousteau69
cousteau69

The need for Microsoft SkyDrive to change is all the more ironic given that BSkyB's own (now defunct) foray into cloud storage offerings didn't feature the word "Sky" at all - rather it was "LiveDrive", something I always thought was partly a dupe to lure in 'fans' of Windows Live.


The idea that "sky" (a distinct word) is deemed to be infringed by an indivisible 8-letter term ("SkyDrive") seems to open floodgates - will BSkyB try to sue every firm which includes the word "skylight", "skylark", etc.?

Will General Electric sue every company which includes a word incorporating "ge" in its name?  (If so, I would not want to be CEO of Anchorage General Storage.)

rolfha
rolfha

How can you lose a lwasuit about the word sky? MSFT should strike back and forbid them to call the glass in their building window.

Pete P
Pete P

Why not just rebrand it as Microsoft Cloud Nine and have their marketing gurus make up 9 exciting features and/or benefits so the cool new name makes sense.

melgish
melgish

I love this name.  "I lost all my data when OneDrive failed..."

supasox
supasox

Are they going to rename Skype to Onepe?

MarkSmithB
MarkSmithB

Skydrive is much better that this new upcoming name. I do not know who is brand manager of Windows. This step needs to be revise

AmmarNaeem
AmmarNaeem

This is confusing. I do not think this move will work. Microsoft is not dealing its product effectively except 2 or 3 products. One drive also quite similar so i do not understand how this move will work?

monicabower
monicabower

I hear the name "Zune" is available.

Pronounce
Pronounce

Microsoft has a poor track record for branding any of its products and services. OneDrive is just more of the same. And why "One" when they were already using Azure? (They obviously didn't discuss this Claudia Madobe before making this choice.) https://sites.google.com/site/madobeclaudiainfo/

Scampo
Scampo

As an English teacher and writer with a marketing background, I would say that the word "one" simply sounds dull and downbeat compared to the word "sky", which has a lively and positive connotation; most particularly this works for Microsoft because of the link of the word "Sky" with the word "Windows", which thanks to their early branding, recalls a blue sky with white cloudlets.


They've made a mistake; and they seem often to be doing that. This is a shame as SkyDrive is a truly excellent service - perhaps one of the best things Microsoft has done. Hopefully the quality of the service will overcome the new slight negativity connoted by the name.

callepego
callepego

Should have given it a real cloud name- Cumulus? Nimbus?

hawi15
hawi15

Seriously - It's not the name that defines the service. Don't think people in general care about the name.

It's all about functionality and quality.

josha12
josha12

should have named it halodrive to market halo franchise

Bohdan
Bohdan

Every letter in the alphabet is trademarked.  Every word in the dictionary is trademarked. With that said, I guess I should be expecting a gazillion lawsuits after I finish typing this. Oh, by the way, my nick name is Ski.  Here we go, infringement lawsuits from the Ski industry.  This hole thing is a complete and utter FUBAR. The blame can be squarely place on the army of laws all these gold seeking money hungry companies keep on their payroll. If they would put that much effort into what's REALLY IMPORTANT, we'd be living in a better world. Shame on all of them........ 

efrometa
efrometa

This author simply does not know how the human brain works. I save documents in my documents, you save them in your documents, he saves them in his documents, she saves them in her documents. Dear author your brain has some issues. People don't get confused with the words iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac.

adh773
adh773

Big deal about nothing, SkyDrive was and still will be as OneDrive a very useful tool for storage. Pathetic what people make up. 

ibh1
ibh1

the problem is with the legislation, why has it in the first place. Cannot name our child with **sky*** ?

Gisabun
Gisabun

Can you really get sued for using a number as part of a name? After all one.com could take Ubuntu to court..

enderby!
enderby!

Like most traditional pay tv providers, BskyB's main business is probably legal and legislative.  This is like a blacksmith suing a buggy maker when the automaker moves to town. 

TinfoilMan
TinfoilMan

With all the synchronization bugs going on since Win 8.1, and with pitfull free limits why would anyone use this? Unless you really like MS and NSA snooping around your files...


My suggestion: if you just want to back up your data, use Cypherite - 8GB for free AND strongly encrypted, unlike the Microsoft cloud. And if you need to share something with someone, just use Filemail - 30 GB for free, blazing fast and private.


Seriously, MS needs to step up its game. 

pz0r56
pz0r56

Am I the only one disturbed by the fact that a company can trademark the word 'sky'?  These two companies are not in direct competition with the same product. It makes as much sense as a trademark on the letter i.

sightsandsounds
sightsandsounds

It must be Hard to run a Billion dollar Business like Microsoft, and not have people that can figure out the problems Before they Become problems,,,, Maybe with Ballmer gone,,,, ? Nah

Stratocaster
Stratocaster

MicroDrive...

(Hey, it works for Google.)

Aside from the legal idiocy that an operating system interface design could be reasonably conflated with a bricks-and-mortar German retailer.  Why don't they sue the Washington, DC-area rail system?

sangraal
sangraal

This is , Has already become, pathetic behavior of these corporation and people that work within them.

grayknight
grayknight

I don't think it will be much of a problem, as no one right now says I stored the file on my one drive, it is either one of my drives or a drive. As for One.com, or Ubuntu One, neither uses OneDrive or One Drive as terminology, so I doubt confusion can be used to declare Microsoft's new name as problematic.

I like OneDrive as I can store it in "one place" and it is available everywhere, locally and in the cloud. This is actually better than SkyDrive as a name.

VortexCortex
VortexCortex

One drive to rule them all,

One drive to find them,

One drive to store them all, 

And in the darkness bind them. 

JamesAltonSanders
JamesAltonSanders

@efrometa I know how personal pronouns work, but what I really want to know is where in the article I took issue with the names "iPod" or "iPhone". 

josha12
josha12

@adh773  i wonder if they'll be able to keep skydrive.com

dave
dave

The Kentucky Derby was renamed to The Derby.  Why?  To avoid paying licensing fees to the state.  Maybe the state should sue KFC?


Also everyone who has named their kids Skylar should rename them now before BskyB hunts you down.

dehartyz
dehartyz

@Stratocaster Microdrive has been taken : /  I actually thought that was rather simple and clever "Microdrive".  I don't know why they just don't stick with Microsoft ___insert product here____


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