A short history of the many lives of OneDrive

This morning, Microsoft debuted the new name for SkyDrive, OneDrive, which it was required to drop after a lawsuit by BSkyB, who own the “Sky” brand and are using it for their own online services. The new name keeps the same logo, and is certainly similar enough to SkyDrive so as not to cause too much confusion. From the sound of the promotional materials, OneDrive is going to be more than just a name change:

Get ready for an even better place to store and share your favorite things across all your favorite device.
OneDrive is everything you love about SkyDrive and more. And it’s coming soon.

A blog post on the new OneDrive blog, on OneDrive.com, reveals that SkyDrive Pro will change its name, too, to “OneDrive for Business”, and something tells us that the name changes for Microsoft’s online services aren’t quite done yet, either.

We’ve been following the long and storied history of what’s now OneDrive since well before the service(s) ever appeared online. In fact, our first mention of “Live Drive” came way back in April 2006. Unfortunately the link to Mary Jo Foley’s original post seems to have been lost in the ether, but we quoted her describing the as yet officially announced service:

“Sources close to Microsoft described that service as one where Microsoft would back up users’ personal files on CD and/or DVD. Users also would be able to back up financial files, legal documents, digital photos, online music and home videos, and even put their most important files into a “digital safe-deposit box,” hosted by Microsoft, sources said.”

A year later, we first got wind of a beta of the new service, “Windows Live Folders”, and indeed the service prepared for launch into beta in May of 2007. But along with the launch of the service, Microsoft was also honing its naming shenanigan skills, and in August, as the service came out of beta, it was renamed to “Windows Live SkyDrive”, a name we first told you about way back in July of 2006:

That function is to be provided by another project, we’re hearing it called SkyDrive, that will allow some of the 2gig (or more) Windows Live email storage to be used for file storage and access.

The naming stayed fairly stable until May of 2012 (a long run by Microsoft standards!), when Chris Jones announced the death of the “Windows Live” brand, and Windows Live SkyDrive became Microsoft SkyDrive. Then, last July, after losing a court battle to BSkyB and originally vowing to continue the fight, Microsoft changed its tune and announced that it would transition to a new brand:

According to the settlement, Microsoft will not pursue its planned appeal of this decision and Sky will allow Microsoft to continue using the SkyDrive name for a reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand. The agreement also contains financial and other terms, the details of which are confidential.

Which brings us up to today, and OneDrive. We’re looking forward to having the naming “cloud” lifted from one of our favorite services (it’s certainly been an interesting one to cover!), and to see what’s in store for the service. The service continues to face pressures from the likes of Dropbox and Box, each receiving healthy rounds of financing lately, and it’s time for Microsoft to get out of its own way with branding and get to the business of competing, we think.