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Microsoft pledges to improve OneDrive sync features for Windows 10

Microsoft has pledged to improve the OneDrive experience for people that are currently checking out the Windows 10 Technical Preview, particularly the sync features that so far don't have some of the same features that are available for other platforms.

In a blog post, Chris Jones, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for its OneDrive and SharePoint divisions, wrote that the team has been working to create a single sync engine, stating:

"We decided to start with the consumer sync engine foundation from Windows 7 and Windows 8 and add the right capabilities from the other two engines. This way, we could add features once and have them benefit all customers, while also ensuring that we didn't run into any more reliability challenges due to placeholders in Windows 8.1. We understand that having one sync engine provide a superset for all three will take time, but this is the best option to meet our core goals."

Jones said that the team is working to improve OneDrive for all of its platforms, including all currently supported versions of Windows, Windows Phone, Mac, iOS and Android. He wrote:

"We've released our unified OneDrive app for Windows Phone and Android and will follow up with iOS later this month. We've made dramatic improvements in sync reliability and performance for Windows 7, we'll release a preview of the Mac client for OneDrive for Business later this month, and we are working to sync shared folders by the summer. For customers running Windows 8.1, we have already made changes to the way OneDrive works to automatically sync smaller OneDrive accounts."

As far as the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Jones is aware that there is currently not a separate sync engine for OneDrive that can handle placeholder files. He wrote:

"There are important capabilities that we need to bring to Windows 10 – some will make it into the first release – including shared folders and support for the consumer and business service. However, others will come in updates that follow later in the calendar year – most notably the core capabilities of placeholders that are both reliable and comprehensible. We know that when you decide to use OneDrive you are trusting us with your files, and we work every day to earn that trust."

He added that the OneDrive team has "a clear roadmap to bring the best experience we can to you between now and the end of the year" for Windows 10 users and encouraged them to send their feedback and suggestions via the Windows Feedback app.

Source: Microsoft

75 Comments
  • In Time.
  • I can't understand this ***, how could i upload my stuf to onedrive, to a specific folder without placeholders. I have the 10tb from office I had so far uploaded 4tb and I have more 2tb. With placeholders I could simply drag the file to any folder I wanted. They really messed up.
  • It makes you wonder what is really going on at Microsoft. Sometimes I get the feeling they don't like consumers just the money. Dropbox have better integration than the company who actually built the OS. Placeholders is nothing new and should have been a basic function built into the OS from the begginning.
  • Epic
  • For me, placeholders was the killer feature that made smaller storage devices usable. I hope they get it sorted sooner than later.
  • Yes. I can't have a tablet run Windows 10 without it.
  • Yeah, I went from loving Windows 10 to gang hating it in one update when they stripped away our placeholders.
  • It will most assuredly be ready by the time Windows 10 goes gold, it's a feature that has garnered tons of praise and criticism for its removal. I understand their desire to unify the platform, so I can't fault them with starting from the bottom and getting reliable methods in place to ensure the best experience for all their platforms.
  • Did you read their blog post? Placeholders won't be coming back until later this year (I bet that means 2016). OneDrive will become pretty much useless for a lot of people.
  • Since I heavily use OneDrive, the change in Win10 annoyed me so much that I didn't want to use it anymore. The placeholders allow me to use my Toshiba Encore and have access to all of my files on demand. Selective sync is just a step backwards from the innovation that placeholders were. If people got confused how about educating them about how it works with a quick first launch tutorial. Going backwards isn't the right solution. I will probably wait to put Win10 on my Surface Pro 3 when it becomes available until they bring that functionality back.
  • I actually uninstalled Windows 10 because of it. I rely on OneDrive so much I couldn't not use it the way it works in Windows 10. This is all just a bunch of corporate BS. I tend to defend Microsoft but this one action has and continued to tick me off.
  • I also went from 10 back to 8.1. While on win10 onedrive didn't even upload and the lack of a real sync system like 8.1 was killing me. Also now that i'm on 8.1 I feel like i'm using an upgrade from win10tp. I love it when a full screen app actually opens at full screen. I also like the snapping better and clicking in the upper left corner to switch apps. And fyi this is on a desktop with 4 monitors. I hope in the consumer preview they add back these great features of 8.1.
  • I'm just using one external display and I know this is just a technical preview but I feel the same when using 8.1. It just feels so much better and Win10TP feels like a step backwards. Continuum might bring the full 8.1 experience back but I will wait to see how that ends up. If they just keep the 8.1 stuff with Continuum and have the desktop mode as well which is what Win10TP pretty much is, and OneDrive is restored to its former glory or at least made an option during initial setup, then I may change my mind. As of now, I will just put it on a VM and use it as a when I want to use it thing instead of trying to use it as my daily driver to really get a feel for it like I've done already.
  • Agreed!!!! Agreed! This is what makes my 64GB Dell Venue Pro much more useable...I am glad they decided to look at this again...
  • "...to sync shared folders" this is the very MOST important part of the whole article! thank you microsoft! please keep it coming as soon as possible! that would change the way i work!
  • Yup.  With this, OneDrive is tops.  Without it, OneDrive is junk.  That's how important is.
  • We have OneDrive for Business with our 365 subscription and I was trying to share a folder with all my employees so they could sync it to their desktops. I just assumed it would work but realized later it wouldn't. This is a huge feature for businesses and I'm happy their going to do it. I ended up mapping our Sharepoint site as a network drive and it's really unreliable.
  • Yes -- shared folders. I don't mean to belittle the very real pain among those who want the placeholder function (I agree with them that it's a great feature), but in terms of comparative impact for market viability, I think Shared Folders are far more important. It's the #1 requested feature by a fair margin on the OneDrive requests site. And it's trivial to share a DropBox or Google Drive folder with friends or colleagues. OneDrive will have a very hard time catching on when it's so crippled compared with the competition. In OneDrive, to be fair, you can "share" but the recipients can't sync, which means the only way to check the contents of the shared folder is to go to the website. This forced us to go back to DropBox (in spite of its limitations with respect to opening Office documents on computers w/o Office installed). To Microsoft's credit, they responded on the OneDrive request site saying that they know this is needed and that they even need it to facilitate their own work, so glad no now know that means as part of the Windows 10 release, though I'd sure like it sooner if possible.
  • Lan Sync and Diff Sync, these are what you need, microsoft. how you didn't manage to add in even a lan sync in the last 12 months is astounding.
  • Think you can do a better job?
  • Pathetic comeback.
  • Pathetic Comment period.
  • Think you can do a better job?
    Yes, I'm exceptionally adept at downloading Dropbox or Bitorrent Sync
  • What's lan sync and Diff sync if I may?
  • LAN sync means that you can sync from PC to PC when connected to the same LAN (local area network), so you do not need to download from the OneDrive servers. As OneDrive is not very fast, syncing several GB will be much faster with LAN sync. (Also, the old Windows Live Mesh had it and Dropbox has it as well.)
  • Live Mesh was so very good.  They should have started with that and built it out as a platform, rather than abandoning it for the decidedly inferior Skydrive.
  • Live mesh was amazing, especially for its time.
  • Well, you could do it with Windows pretty easily, just not via OneDrive. Just share the OneDrive folder on PC1. On PC2, access the share, right click, and select "Always available offline". Then set that shared folder as your OneDrive location on PC2 (if you can't use a network share, then first map it to a network drive, which OneDrive will accept). Then you can use Windows Sync to sync files between the two (or more) computers and still have everything also uploaded via OneDrive. The only limitation is that the LAN sync here would be a Hub-Spoke configuration, rather than a total mesh/peer relationship, but if you have a desk PC and a laptop or other fairly simple network, or can allocate a system as the hub "server" then this would fine. I should caution that I've not tried this and it's possible that OneDrive will not like the background OS sync or vice versa, but I don't think so. I used OneDrive (had to give it up when I realized it didn't support shared folders) and continue to use Offline Files heavily for a lot of network operations and I believe this would work reliably.
  • These are always appreciated.
  • I don't know how I will use my 500 gigas on OD without placeholder in W10...
  • Great if placeholders come back. I never understood how people to mistake them for offline files...
    They used also have to "sort by" feature to stay the same when you change it.
    And now that the music folder is here, they also need to make WP able to exit OneDrive without shutting down the music.
  • People Hub welcomes a new member.
  • So Windows 10 will ship without placeholders?
  • At the begging yes... :(
  • Playlists would be nice
  • Awesome news.
  • Whatever happened to Xbox Music Locker?
  • It seems these days Miicrosoft always promise us something or tease with a great new feature. Less talking and more action. Still waiting on Lumia Denim on my 930 in the UK.It's always the next update that they say will bring them to fore and then 3 or 4 updates later they are still lagging behind the competition.  
  • The same here on my 1520.3 in USA.
  • Nowadays Microsoft is digging their own Pit!!
  • So how did anything they said in this article point you in that direction?
  • What's placeholder?
  • The possibility to manage wich files are downloaded offline. The other ones are called 'placeholders'
  • In Windows 8.1 all your OneDrive files are visible on you PC, some are downloaded (available offline) and some are not, the ones that are not (placeholders) just have a thumbnail and some basic info about your file and are marked as "available online-only", if you double click on the file it will be downloaded before you can view or edit the file. 
  • Thank you very much
  • Please fix Onedrive for Business or make it go away and let us use ONE OneDrive.
  • Ditto. We have all sorts of OD for Business sync issues, such that we had to quit using it. Terrible.
  • no, its downgrade
  • OneDrive is good! All those new features are very good and easy for newbies. Just keep it safe.
  • Great news, can't use it without placeholders.
  • The aim is simple..... Make it better than dropbox.
  • Only three things have to happen and this is done.  And they ought not be too difficult: Get placeholders working properly. Get folder sharing working properly. Improve sync reliability.
  • AMEN!!! X10
  • The only reason for not using one drive yet..was that lan sync isnt available...and i tend to share large files with other family members...
  • Is it just me or does every release of Microsoft's just run backwards in usability?  Zune -> Xbox Music.   3 years later, complete garbage. I'm so close to abandoning Xbox Music after giving chance after chance to improve and seeing nothing happen. 
    SkyDrive -> OneDrive.  Loss of Live Mesh with access to files not in the cloud.   Upload speeds have crawled to KB/s for many users.  I thankfully after a 6 months of crummy uploads/downloads found a set of registry tricks that got mine working again. Loss of placeholders.  
    Windows Phone 7 -> Windows Phone 8.   No more integration between services and no more unified messaging loss of hubs.  It's no wonder they're withering--we keep racing backwards and then crawling forwards for years with seemingly nothing for the user to show for their sacrifices. 
  • Did you even read the article? MS clearly laid out a roadmap for us.  They said that the OneDrive we see in Win 10 is an early work in progress and they very much intend to bring the service up to par and beyond vs what it is on Win 8.1.  They explained why they are developing a new sync engine that requires a rebuild of the service.  There is no indication of a backwards direction in usability. Far too often, it seems people around here either ignore what is said or miss it somehow.
  • Chris Jones and company are not rebuilding anything they are building upon an old version of OneDrive that was not widely used. They should have used the version provided in 8.1 to build upon and polish instead of going backwards.  Now we have to wait another year or more for the same feature set that helped drive the adoption of OneDrive to return.  Look at the release dates for windows and Chris's own statement in regards to the adoption rate of OneDrive over the past year.  Windows 8.1 has been out for just over a year now. Is this just a coincidence? I don’t think that it is.
  • Totally agree!! Microsoft keeps on redoing things from scratch. Never finishing anything. Always promising that this is necessary to make things better. What actually happens is exactly what you describe, we often loose functionality. Microsoft seems to be a company with too many technical architects who keep on working under the hood.while the driver mist wait until he can finally drive.
  • Why did Microsoft made one drive app for Android when Google did not make any Google drive app for us?
  • Because Microsoft likes money and Google apparently doesn't.
  • Microsoft is in the "rock and a had place" situation. They want people to use their services as well as their devices, but they fell so far out of favor and lost so much early market share they can't be stubborn anymore and just not make an app for another platform because they don't like them. Google, on the other hand, doesn't have the same problem. People will fall overthemselves to get a gmail account so they don't have to go out of their way to make an app for a platform they don't want to support, espcially one that has such a small share of the market like WP.
  • Takes forever to play a video ...and there only 25 seconds long
  • Placeholders? Wait?what?..
  • Finally an example of clear, concise communication from the product teams at MS. I like it.
  • Sounds good! I'll admit to have gotten a little caught up in all the hussle and bussle of the OneDrive on Windows 10 debacle before Christmas and was a bit worried but at the same time we need to remember how far away we are from a final release (and even then, in the age of software as a service, everything will be constantly updated in a way even Windows 8.1 never has been). Still, I like to think the massive amount of feedback Microsoft is receiving from places like this is definitely helping to shape Windows 10. I just hope that going forward they're wise and pragmatic enough to know the difference between a popular and useful opinion vs an opinion that is simply loud. I suspect we'll see the loudest opinions yet come January 21st... ;)
  • Finally, shared folders support!
  • This is SOO much more important to me than the placeholder issue (have to use DropBox until true folder sharing is added). That said, I can understand if you have limited space on a particular device and don't want to sync everything to it, the placeholder function was the perfect solution. I also feel for people who had this working only to have it taken away. That's clearly a bad move.
  • Is it possible to USE OneDrive without logging onto my computer? Am not a fan of passwords and pin numbers and purchased a 1 TB to avoid being told "you are not logged in" for me to access my content. Shared PC no need for passwords.
  • This is just more of Microsoft's best on IOS and Android first policy. They're digging their own grave.
  • Might be the reverse in this case; they say they're bringing their unified Windows Phone/Android app to iOS, which is a bit of a shame 'cause the iOS OneDrive app has a much nicer layout/UI than WinPho/Android.
  • Windows 10 and One drive are Great together... more integration....more LOVE ;)
  • I would give up placeholders for a more stable OneDrive that doesn't flicker and make conflicting files as often -COMPUTERNAME-COMPUTERNAME-COMPUTERNAME-COMPUTERNAME-COMPUTERNAME.txt
  • My comment on uservoice: Ning Jin-Grisaffi, You think we are stupids?
    Your whole legal babling made by Chris Jones on January 7, 2015, is just BULLS...
    Taking the Next Step in Sync for OneDrive... what a bunch of Cr@p... My opinion... Quoting:
    —–
    Smart files (placeholders) are going away. Instead of making OneDrive in Windows 10 work like it does in Windows 8.1, it will instead revert to the way the sync client works elsewhere. That is, it will use selective sync like it does in Windows 7 and the Mac. Why? Three reasons(actually only THE THIRD IS VALID): 1. Because many users(IDIOTS) found smart files confusing(They are stupids). They would see the smart file on their PC, assume that meant the underlying file was there, and then go offline (on a plane, AN ORGY, whatever) and discover they could not open the file. Outrage ensues(That’s a FALSE STATEMENT, that never happened to me, because I opened the file first, I’m not that stupid, THOSE "USERS" ARE!!!). 2. Compatibility reason. Some applications—like Adobe Lightroom—don’t work well with placeholders. (Who cares if a NON MS APPLICATION is not compatible for not being upgraded? It's their FAULT not ours or MS') 3. Reliability. Microsoft says that sync reliability was not where it needed it to be. (That’s true, you can access the OD files if the pc is booted from a usb or cd, I concede that point, that needs to be fixed, and this is the ONLY reason to take into account and make OneDrive better!)
    —–
    Resuming: What a bunch of BULLS..T
  • What does the placeholder do? I'm confused.
  • OneDrive is a nice idea. A really nice idea with a huge promise built in. I tried to put my iTunes library (which uses lossless encoded audio files) of 300 GB on OneDrive.  I have 10 MB/s upload bandwidth. Never mind. I have given up on this. What I learned from trying to use some of my 10 TB of OneDrive capacity is:
    I'd rather do not rely on OneDrive (as of now). I'll go ahead and will set up an Ubuntu server on some somewhat outdated but still okay left-over PC hardware.
    Setting up a Linux server is cumbersome too time consuming?
    Ok, go try uploading big fat and plentiful stuff to OneDrive. Enjoy. OneDrive is ok if you slowly fill up your OneDrive over the years with pictures and the like.
    Do not expect to download your whole worth of data from OneDrive when you move to a new PC or are in dire straits which demands full, uncompromising and immidiate access to your data. OneDrive is a nice idea. Still like the basic idea very much. But I'll rather go with an Ubuntu server.
    I am the one who will be in command of that server.
    And I will not depend on any strategic positionings and changes of mind and policies of Microsoft. I still will use some of my OneDrive.
    But I will make sure that I will not find myself in a position where I am at the full mercy of OneDrive.
    Sometime s.... hits the fan. I surely will ... with OneDrive this will happen as well. Guess I'll let pass by 2 or 3 years and the re-assess the situation with OneDrive again.
    Better save than sorry.