Microsoft quietly does away with Groups in OneDrive

One of the lesser known features in OneDrive is Groups, which, as the name implies, lets users not only create groups of contacts to share folders with, but also delegate a “co-owner” who can manage the group as well. And though Groups may not be one of the highly-publicized perks of OneDrive, it does enjoy a bit of a cult following.

Sadly for that group of OneDrive users, Microsoft has quietly done away with the ability to create groups with about as much fanfare as its arrival. In the Microsoft Community forums, bewildered users started reporting a message on the groups landing page informing them that they can no longer create new groups or invite new people to existing ones.

For those of us who never used the feature, the Groups section isn’t even listed along the left side of the OneDrive main page, but going the URL for the Group View results in the same message.

The bright side, if you are a “glass is half full” kind of person, is that existing groups will remain fully intact and operational.

Perhaps Microsoft opted not to send out a notification about the change because Groups is not one of the big selling points of OneDrive. However, for anyone using it, it is a rude awakening of sorts. Any time functionality is taken away, it can be a touchy subject. It’s a question of whether it is better to prepare people for pain or just rip the Band-Aid off and see if it hurts.

So what do you, our readers, think of this? Has the disabling of group management left a bad taste in your mouth? Is this just minor feature of OneDrive that you do not use or even know about?

Be sure to let us know below in the comments.

Source: Microsoft Community (opens in new tab); Thanks for the tip, Macky!

Seth Brodeur
  • I want this feature back!!! First comment
  • No more eOrgies
  • I have no use for this feature so I won't miss it, but no matter how obscure a feature, there's always somebody using it and for them this is like a restaurant taking your favourite item off the menu.  What???? That was the best thing on the menu!!!!!  Sigh.
  • +Icon
  • It's worse. It's like the restaurant saying they actually still make that entrée all the time, but you just cant order it anymore.
    Probably they are preparing some new replacement for this feature that they plan to migrate everyone over to, but why block people from using what's already there and working in the meantime? Especially if they are going to keep supporting it for existing users -- it's not like they removed the code that makes the feature work. Microsoft's long-standing infatuation with constantly moving/removing features people actually liked, for no obvious good reason, is one of the more frustrating things about them. It's like they have severe product feature ADHD or something. :)
  • Sucks. Used it all the time. Fingers crossed they replace it with something.
  • You mean like they replaced the awsomness that was Mesh with...   Or the really great grab-a-remote-file feature of SkyDrive with...   Or all those awsome hubs in WP with...   No, MS is in a "moving in the wrong direction" pattern and has been stuck there for a long while now.
  • Its not like that. Actually m looking forward to see the better integration with my phone hub too. Which sync my one drive group with my phone or outlook group.
  • What's happened to the much touted 'co-owner' feature that was supposed to arrive with OneDrive?
  • I looked at the article again last month and I think the article is BS.  If you look at the screen shot of the UI controls, it's probably either photoshopped or a screen shot from this now-defunct Groups feature.
  • Not really - I'm looking at the screenshot now and I don't see how it looks photoshopped. That is not to say it can't be, just that I don't see any basis for you to say that it is photoshopped. The fact that the feature had been rumored multiple times before, I think it will be coming. But not sure why Microsoft is taking its sweet time in getting this out to the public.
  • You can even see the Group added in the second shot, and the dialog to add a new one shown in the third shot is nearly identical to that of the Group feature. Also, the only references I can find suggesting that the feature will be added all use the same screenshots and same anonymous source.
  • Do you mean the co-ownership of folders so two people can have the same folder on their PCs and therefore sync them? At least that's what I'm waiting for. It would be so great ... :/ Also copying from megas desktop client would be much appreciated since it is superior in functionality as well as design in my opinion ...
  • I've been waiting for this ever since it was announced. I making small videos for a YouTube channel with a group of friends so being able to share documents, sound, videos with a group would be awesome. Actually I told all my friends to get on OneDrive when that feature was announced, but we haven't used it for the channel so far since the new feature never appeared...
  • I used to use it at school for study groups
  • Wait, groups like as in having people share a document with another, like what Google Drive does? I hope Microsoft didn't get rid of this...
  • You can still share.
  • Groups like sharing with a whole group of people by just adding the group instead of a list of individuals. Sharing has been there from the beginning and isnt going anywhere.
  • No, sharing is still there. That hasn't changed. Groups was once called "Windows Live Groups" back in the days before it got rolled into the then SkyDrive. It provided not just sharing of files but also a shared calendar, and a "quick group chat" within the now-discontinued Windows Live Messenger. It even provided a group email address so any emails sent to that address gets sent to all group members. But with announcement of WP8, the then separate Windows Phone team decided to release a separate "Rooms" feature, that did almost the same thing with a common shared folder on OneDrive, shared Calendar, as well as group Messenger (now Skype) IMs. Unfortunately they didn't utilize the "Groups" feature that already existed, which means the existing "Groups" in OneDrive never got publicized, and slowly became defunct and a duplicate feature. With the whole new One Microsoft thing, I bet Satya is trying to consolidate/remove most, if not all, of these duplicate features that exist in Microsoft. Hence Groups became one of those to go.
  • I never knew this existed.... Now that I'm looking into it groups looks awesome! Hopefully they removed it to make room for something similar...
  • Haha! Exactly my thoughts :P
  • Crap. What is this? Google? At least with Google they label everything as "beta", so you kind of know that they might take it away. But even they give you warning.
  • Yeah, Microsoft's recent trend of trying to make a lot of their services and products less unique and more like competitor offerings is starting to get on my nerves... WP8.1, now this, etc... I'm sure it's just me though, I'm probably just exaggerating.
  • You're not.  MS is a full-on disaster right now.  Everything they put out lately is cr*p.  And what's sad is they always add cool new features while they take away other ones you loved, so it is impossible to say that this version or that version is better, just different. From Office 2013 vs. Office 2010 to Windows 8 vs. Windows 7 to WP 8.1 vs. WP 8, MS is incapable lately of only making their products better.  That didn't used to be the case.
  • Don't be an ass. They are nowhere near full on disaster. Fact is, they're doing more RIGHT these days than they have in years. Windows 8.1 is superb, as is WP 8.1, Xbox One was a disaster at launch, but is getting better (still not worth theentry price though). Surface has been great since day one and has mostly gotten better, save for one thing: the idiotic removal of the wacom digitizer. Office 2013 is the best version of Office ever released, hands down.
  • Will this have any effect on the Rooms feature on Windows Phone?
  • I don't think so ...
  • Same question... I guess my Family Room won't be affected but I assume its based on OneDrive. If I lost the functionality of the Family Room it would be huge loss. Our family functions through the Family Room... shared/dynamic calendars, pictures, grocery lists, other lists, communications..., all are ENORMOUSLY valuable and now a dependency of my family's day-to-day life. MS needs to market and leverage such incredible capability that I think many aren't even aware of.
  • I agree, I depend on Family Room too!
  • Our family room is still working today. I think it uses an individual sharing level with a single shared One Note. Family Room is a pretty big deal for our family as well. Its the authoritative calendar that everyone has access to for coordinating family events, shopping lists, birthday party planning, etc.
  • This function ruled. Will be missed. Also, its a function that could have been used to push in to gmail users. Its a good reason to become a outlook user.
  • I used it too until it broke and I was left with a group that could not be edited or deleted. I ended up getting a special URL to edit that forced the deletion from MS support. I hope it returns in a more complete form in the future.
  • I hope so, too. They would be dumb if they just killed it since it sure is useful!
  • This sucks.
  • i think ( and DESPERATLY hope ) this is to make way for the TRUE " group" or "co-owner" folder system that was announced ages ago ( proper group folders like on Dropbox) if so, i can finally ditch dropbox, but until then, this is a HUGELY lacking feature
  • Totally agree, I've been trying to replace Dropbox with OneDrive for Business, so I've been playing around with the latter. I just realized this co-owner functionality doesn't exist in OneDrive. Full show-stopper.
  • It seems weird that they would take away a feature when their new focus as a company is supposed to be the cloud.
  • It is Microsoft. It's natural for them to make moves nobody understands :D
  • I used it for school projects, it worked very good. Don't like that this feature is gone...
  • I might have used it if I had known about it.
  • huh, since they kept it, it doesn't sound like it was due to a huge re-design which would have borken them. It is not like the feature was costing them money given they admit it was low usage, and it sounds like a good reason to use one drive for collaboration which IIRC, isn't that what the cloud is all about?
  • That was what it was all about when it was Skydrive. Now we can see that the name change to Onedrive was not just a new name. It was a conceptual shift too, now Onedrive is just for you. Alone.
  • Ha, clever point about the name. I can see it now..."You put the One in OneDrive!"
  • Just in case anyone panics like I just did, groups can still be accessed, made and added to in People. It's just Skydrive that lost the groups functionality. Still, I'm now worried that People groups' days are numbered. This seems a rather odd direction for MS to go in.
  • The "groups" in People is different from the OneDrive Groups. Search for "Windows Live Groups" on Wikipedia to understand what OneDrive Groups was all about (or my comment somewhere above). I think People groups will be there to stay. So is Rooms on WP8/8.1. In fact, I think they removed OneDrive Groups to make room for Rooms, since they both did almost the same thing anyway.
  • That sucks. I share folders with groups when I'm designing UI's
  • I can understand it's not the biggest feature... But is there any benefit in removing it, either?
  • I agree. Why remove a feature just because its not popular? If it works, and isn't hurting other features, leave the the F* alone!
  • Because it was duplicating with the "Rooms" feature from Windows Phone, which did the same thing.
  • Microsoft is the king in shooting themselves in the foot.
  • I could see this as a negative for businesses that use OneDrive. My work is all Google for whatever reason, but I do know we use their groups functionality pretty heavily.
  • OneDrive for Business has team sharing. This is only removed in the consumer version which I'm guessing to make room for the new coauthoring feature coming.
  • I use this feature all the time to share and edit files and documents. What bothers me is that Microsoft is dumbing down its product offering trying to please everyone!
    If people aren't using it do a better job in marketing the innovative features rather than take it away. This is the same way they have screwed up the hubs in windowsphone to please people who want a notification centre.
    Microsoft stop fucking yourself!
  • Just migrated to OneDrive from Dropbox today, went to set up Co-Ownership and it was gone.  I'll be asking for a refund as I really need this feature. 
  • Wait this was already avalible... ive wanted this type of feature for so long and did't no it was their and now it's gone.? :/
  • Me too, I wanted co-owners as well but the MS Support forums said it couldn't be done.  Now I find out it could?  Microsoft has a real nack for ticking me off.  
  • Perhaps they're removing the Groups thing to make way for the "co-owner" feature that can be applied to all folders in OneDrive? Just a thought...
  • These seems like a really dumb move. Are they limiting it to just OneDrive Business users? Sharing a folder with a group and having a co-owner is a huge feature for anyone in businesses, etc. Even for families. I really hope they removed it to replace it with something more full featured. Otherwise, this doesn't make any sense at all.
  • Does this affect Rooms in WP8? I hope not, I love using rooms to keep my extended family in the loop with each other
  • i'm still waiting for dropbox-like coowner folders... also visible in the OneDrive apps and the Desktop Integration
  • D*ck move
  • I'm not sure I was even aware of this but I can't see myself using it anyway unless I was higher up within a company, but they'd probably stick to some other service instead.
  • T_T this is terrible... Use it all the time. Why add a feature then take it away??
    That is what I don't get.
  • It sucks that the glance screen picture disappeared as well when I tried to change it. Now I don't have the option to have picture there anymore. Hope it comes back soon.
  • Wait. Had I known about this, I would've been using OneDrive for my production offices for a while now. I don't think this ever showed up on my OneDrive as I was eagerly awaiting "co-ownership" of folders which I was told was not too far away.
    Are we sure this wasn't a limited beta that will be implemented widely? The only thing Dropbox has over OneDrive is the ability for multiple accounts to access and physically sync those folders on different PCs. I really hope this comes back in a bigger, more publicized way.
  • I user this this feauture alot during projects with other students when I was in university. However, this group feature never was as sophisticated as dropbox' one, as it wouldn't sync shared files on the no-owner's PC's. However, OneDrive (or Skydrive as it was called then) fitted our needs best as it supported live sync with Office files and OneNote. Also Google Drive offers live syncing of Office documents, however that also meant that you were limited to the web based Google Docs application, which sucks big time.
  • Groups were clunky to use. Used it for a couple of school projects and always had an issue of some sorts. Sharing a folder is easier.
  • Everybody take a deep breath. Inhale, exhale repeat. They announced upcoming features that are well beyond what this did for us. I suspec that they may have had to remove this before they roll out the new. As an IT guy we run into this kind of thing periodically. I agree with the post above. MS is on a tear lately. Keep it up.
  • +1020 This is what I think as well... Think about it, if the rumored "co-owners" thing is indeed coming, this removal of Groups seems like just paving the way for it.
  • They promised those features with the launch of OneDrive though, and how did that work out?
  • I didn't know that the "group" exist! (-_-)
  • Can you allow others to upload, say, a video, to your OneDrive account? If, so, can anyone tell me how? Is it just pointing them to a shared folder, or is this what MS just got rid of?
  • How long will it take them to get rid of Rooms in Windows phone, too? (the people room, not OneDrive). I'm waiting for this since they killed the messenger in the messaging hub. They probably just forgot they still have this feature.
  • thats why MICROSOT suck they always do weired thngs like this ,like what they did wp8 they take good things away all tha time !!!! i want thie feature baaaaack i use it with my freinds and they have android s4 and ios phones 5 but they instaled OneDrive just to share things with me