Microsoft nixes SkyDrive, picks OneDrive as new name

After trademark lawsuit loss to BSkyB last year, announces rebranding for consumer and commercial online storage service

Microsoft today said it had renamed its SkyDrive online storage services as OneDrive, picking a name six months after striking a deal with a British broadcaster that had taken the American firm to trademark court.

"Changing the name of a product as loved as SkyDrive wasn't easy," Microsoft acknowledged in a post to a new blog. "We believe the new OneDrive name conveys the value we can deliver for you and best represents our vision for the future."

Microsoft was forced to rebrand the service -- as well as its for-business SkyDrive Pro, which took the name OneDrive for Business -- after it lost a trademark infringement case last year brought by British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB), the massive television and broadband Internet service provider owned in part by Rupert Murdoch.

In early August, Microsoft and BSkyB announced a settlement that gave the former a "reasonable period of time to allow for an orderly transition to a new brand" for SkyDrive. In return, Microsoft pledged to drop its plans to appeal the U.K. court's ruling.

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Current users of SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro need do nothing as the name change propagates through Microsoft's properties. "The service will continue to operate as you expect and all of your content will be available on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business respectively as the new name is rolled out across the portfolio," said Ryan Gavin, general manager of Microsoft's consumer apps and services group, in the blog.

It wasn't the first time that Microsoft stumbled with a brand name.

In mid-2012, the Redmond, Wash. company dropped the term "Metro" -- which it had used to describe the tile-based, touch-first interface in Windows 8 and the apps that ran in the UI -- after Metro AG, a Dusseldorf, Germany-based retail conglomerate, threatened the company. Microsoft has failed to find a catchy replacement for Metro. At one point it cited "Modern" as the new term, then settled on the forgettable "Windows Store" to label the apps, all to little avail: Most references to the UI and apps continue to use Metro.

One public relations expert took Microsoft to the woodshed last year for flailing a second time in branding. "It's unbelievable to me that Microsoft did not see this coming," said Peter LaMotte, an analyst with Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications consultancy Levick.

According to a WHOIS search of domain registrations, onedrive.com was originally claimed in 1998. On Jan. 23, 2014, the status of the domain was updated; it now shows as owned by Dynadot, a San Jose, Calif. domain name registrar and website hosting firm.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com..

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