Goodbye, SkyDrive. Hello, OneDrive, the new name for Microsoft's in-the-cloud storage service.
The change is being made because of a U.K. court decision in 2012 which found that Microsoft infringed on a trademark owned by British Sky Broadcasting Group, or BSkyB. The British judge ruled that "there is a likelihood of confusion in the average consumer in the sense that there is a risk that the public might believe that the services come from the same undertaking or one which is economically linked."
Although Microsoft could have appealed, or established a separate brand in Europe, it instead settled on an arrangement allowing it to keep the SkyDrive name until it could prepare and launch a global rebranding, which is now taking place.
On Monday, the official name change was announced by Microsoft, although, as of mid-Monday afternoon, the OneDrive.com site still said that it was "coming soon." It includes an e-mail sign-up to receive notification when the new OneDrive is operational. SkyDrive Pro will now be called OneDrive for Business. The page does suggest that OneDrive might have some new or modified features, since it describes the renamed service as "an even better place" for storage and sharing, and adds that OneDrive "is everything you love about SkyDrive and more."
On the now-official OneDrive Blog, Applications and Services Marketing General Manager Ryan Gavin wrote on Monday that the name OneDrive reflects the fact the user "will have many devices in your life, but you really want only one place for your most important stuff." The name also echoes the One Microsoft effort led by outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, in which there is unification of products and services across the company to enable faster innovation.
The terms of the deal with BSkyB were not made public, although the broadcaster did agree to allow Microsoft to use the brand "for a reasonable period of time" during the transition. An unspecified financial component was part of the deal.
More than 250 Million Users
Originally launched in 2007, SkyDrive now boasts more than 250 million users, and has become a key component of Microsoft's efforts to provide cloud-based services that extend across product lines. BSkyB and Microsoft are working together to offer Sky programming on the Xbox One video game/entertainment console.
This is the second time in a little more than a year that Microsoft has had to rebrand a highly visible product. In mid-2012, the company began backing away from the Metro name for its tile-based interface in Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Officially, the Redmond, Wash.-based company said that the name change was simply because Metro had only been the internal code name, but there were reports of another possible infringement with another European company. No brand has yet been substituted for Metro.
Meanwhile, ZDNet's Mary Jane Foley has reported that the company may be in the process of also rebranding its Office Web Apps, free online versions of its Office productivity tools, by changing its name to Office Online.