Microsoft Harnesses Cloud to Banish Email Attachments

Share, don't attach. That's Microsoft's message for users who are considering sending large files over email.

cloud storage

Microsoft wants to lighten the load for email servers.

The company announced a new feature for its Webmail service, called Share from OneDrive, that allows users to share large files over email without clogging their recipients' inboxes. The option also helps users overcome bandwidth constraints and avoid file size limits that are often imposed by email systems.

"Sending large files as email attachments has always been tricky: They can take a long time to upload and send, and may bounce back, never reaching the recipient," noted Microsoft's James Shield, product marketing manager for, in a statement. "We had this in mind when we created the Share from OneDrive feature—we wanted to provide customers with a way to easily avoid these problems, while still being able to share their files."

Users can select the new feature under the Insert menu item. After selecting the appropriate file from a OneDrive account and hitting Send, delivers a pointer to the file. Recipients then have the option to view or download the file.

It's not the first time Microsoft has shown its disdain for email attachments. After a July update, Outlook Web App users gained the ability to edit Office files (Word, Excel or PowerPoint) directly in a Web browser, eliminating the need to open, save and resend updated files as attachments.

The new Share from OneDrive feature comes in the wake of some major updates to the OneDrive cloud storage service.

Last month, Microsoft increased the file size limit from 2 gigabytes (GB) to 10GB. And in June, the company slashed prices and more than doubled the amount of free storage available to OneDrive users, from 7GB to 15GB.

"With the increase in OneDrive file size limits, you can now use this feature to easily share your larger files over email without having to worry about typical attachment problems," concluded Shields. is the successor to Microsoft's popular, albeit aging Hotmail service. In May 2013, the company completed the transition from Hotmail to its mobile-friendly Webmail service, which bears the name of the company's flagship email, calendar and contacts application.

The six-week effort entailed migrating a staggering 150 petabytes of email. All told, the move would push to more than 400 million active accounts. "With the upgrade complete, we've turned our energy and attention to future innovation and to making even better based on your feedback," stated Group Program Manager Dick Craddock at the time.

In July, while still reeling from the National Security Agency's cyber-spying scandal, Microsoft announced that it had tightened's data security protections with support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption and Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) encryption. The latter "uses a different encryption key for every connection, making it more difficult for attackers to decrypt connections," explained Matt Thomlinson, vice president of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Security unit, in a statement.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...