Microsoft disavows workaround for SkyDrive problems on Windows 8.1

The company has now posted troubleshooting steps on its official support discussion forum for affected users

Microsoft has backtracked on a suggested fix it offered repeatedly on its support forum for over two months for users having problems with SkyDrive on Windows 8.1.

In a permanent message on the SkyDrive section of its support site, Microsoft now offers detailed troubleshooting steps for affected users.

At the end of the post, it also disavows a workaround its officials had been dispensing that involved backing up SkyDrive, deleting its root folder and files and restarting the application. "If you've previously seen the instructions below on other posts, please DO NOT use them as they are no longer valid for SkyDrive on Windows 8.1," the post reads.

Microsoft published the note on Dec. 20, two days after IDG News Service first reported that the support site by then had more than 120 active discussion threads about SkyDrive malfunctions following upgrades to Windows 8.1.

Until then, Microsoft hadn't addressed the topic with a permanently "pinned" message on the site, opting instead to dispatch its forum moderators to the individual discussion threads.

Asked at the time for comment, Microsoft said via email that it was "aware of a small number of people discussing these issues on forums" and that it was working with them individually, often by phone, to solve their issues. "Most people using Windows 8.1 and SkyDrive, however, are having a good experience," a spokesman wrote at the time.

Aside from the now-disavowed workaround, forum moderators didn't seem able to pinpoint a cause nor prescribe a solution for the problems people were reporting, including nagging and persistent error messages, slow performance, difficulty uploading files, lost and corrupted folders and documents, and sync troubles, including duplicate files and processes caught in a loop.

A scan of the SkyDrive forum shows that affected users continue to file complaints about SkyDrive on Windows 8.1.

The problems for the affected users began after installing Windows 8.1, the update to Windows 8 that started shipping in mid-October.

The number of discussion threads dealing with the issues and the number of people participating in them seems very high for a problem that Microsoft so far maintains isn't generalized.

However, the fact that Microsoft has now pinned a permanent message about this issue in the support site indicates that the company recognizes it is a matter that deserves more prominent acknowledgement.

SkyDrive and Windows 8.1 were deeply meshed to make it easier for people to use SkyDrive than it had been on Windows 8, the company said in a blog post on Oct. 15. However, an early sign that trouble might be afoot was that most of the comments readers made to that post in the following weeks were negative.

SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, is a key product for the company as it transforms itself from being a provider of packaged desktop applications into a provider of cloud-based software and services. SkyDrive is the underlying, common cloud storage service for Windows, Office and other major Microsoft consumer products. A version called SkyDrive Pro is a key component of enterprise products such as the Office 365 cloud email and collaboration suite.

Meanwhile, Windows 8.1 was designed to address major complaints that plagued Windows 8. However, Windows 8.1's rollout has been bumpy. The OS update was hit by a variety of serious and disruptive bugs in the days and weeks following its release, including computers that couldn't boot up, peripherals that malfunctioned, software that couldn't be run and OS installations that couldn't be completed.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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