Yes folks, once again I’m referring to the good people at Microsoft, in particular the team behind OneDrive. They’ve just announced “A simpler sharing experience at OneDrive.com”. According to them:
The new experience is, in a word, simple. We show the two most popular options for sharing right up front with big blue buttons that are easy to see and easy to hit. We use terms that are understandable to a wider range of users. We optimized for the common cases and present the rarely used options in less distracting ways. Basically, it’s not as messy.
What they didn’t say is that they have removed one option: the ability to shorten a link from two lines of gobbledygook down to a simple string of 7 or 8 characters. This was perfect for those people who needed to include links in printed documents.
Now they have to rely on people being able to type, without errors, something like https: //onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=6AA39937A982345B!10782&authkey=!AMBcijD6MBaGeF0&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg. Many email clients will also break these long links by splitting them over two lines so that they won’t work when clicked on.
Needless to say, there’s been a storm of protest about this removal. So much so that Microsoft has (I suspect rather shamefacedly) now added an update to the post:
We’re working on a new approach to shortening the sharing links that will better enhance our users’ experience. Unfortunately, we had to remove the current experience in preparation for the new one. We always keep the best interest of our users in mind so we appreciate your patience as we work this out. We expect to have it ready soon.
What is even more astounding is that Microsoft apparently tested this new experience on “28,000 real-world users”. One might wonder why on earth none of the 28,000 users picked up on this removal of a very convenient feature (or perhaps Microsoft didn’t bother to ask them about it). One might also wonder why Microsoft didn’t get the new approach to short links ready before rolling out the complete new experience to the world, but I suppose we should never underestimate Microsoft’s unerring ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.