In Windows 8.1, Microsoft integrated its OneDrive cloud storage with the Windows file system, so you see your OneDrive files in Windows Explorer.
There was a twist though: in Explorer you see all your OneDrive files, but they are not actually downloaded to your PC unless you specifically configure a file or folder for “offline” use, or open a file in which case it downloads on demand.
The strength of this feature is that you have seamless access to what might be multiple Gigabytes of cloud files, without actually trying (and failing) to sync them to your nice, fast, but relatively small SSD, such as on a Surface tablet.
In the latest preview of Windows 10, Microsoft has killed the feature, supposedly on the basis that users did not understand it, says Gabe Aul:
In Windows 8.1, we use placeholders on your PC to represent files you have stored in OneDrive. People had to learn the difference between what files were “available online” (placeholders) versus what was “available offline” and physically on your PC. We heard a lot of feedback around this behavior. For example, people would expect that any files they see in File Explorer would be available offline by default. Then they would hop onto a flight (or go someplace without connectivity) and try to access a file they thought was on their PC and it wasn’t available because it was just a placeholder. It didn’t feel like sync was as reliable as it needed to be. For Windows 10, having OneDrive provide fast and reliable sync of your files is important. Starting with this build, OneDrive will use selective sync. This means you choose what you want synced to your PC and it will be. What you see is really there and you don’t need to worry about downloading it. You can choose to have all of your OneDrive files synced to your PC, or just the ones you select.
Many users did understand the feature though, and for them it is a disaster. No longer can you see all your OneDrive files in Windows Explorer, or search your cloud storage using the tools built into Windows.
This is just a preview though, and Microsoft may restore the feature, or add an advanced option for users who want it, if it gets feedback – as it is already doing?
The questions though: is there really time to revert the change, and is Aul telling the full story about why it was removed?