It looks as though everything is in place for Microsoft in regards to its email and messaging services. All @hotmail.com and @live.com accounts under the Outlook.com banner. The new service finished up with a new design and features the summer of 2012. Outlook.com has 400 million active accounts which is 100 million more than Hotmail when it was at its peak. This also marks an increase of 60 million from when Outlook.com first stepped out in February. Just to throw another couple million out there, there are 125 million users tending to Outlook.com through mobile means with Exchange ActiveSync.
Of the large movement of user data and the like from Hotmail.com accounts to Outlook.com Microsoft stated, “This made the magnitude of the process incredible, maybe even unprecedented. This meant communicating with hundreds of millions of people, upgrading all their mailboxes—equaling more than 150 million gigabytes of data—and making sure that every person’s mail, calendar, contacts, folders, and personal preferences were preserved in the upgrade. Of course this had to be done with a live site experience that was handling billions of transactions a day.”
Microsoft is also releasing two upgrades for Outlook.com to commemorate the occasion. SMTP Send makes sending emails from alias and non-Outlook addresses easier. The upgraded SMTP Send also keeps the recipients of the mail from seeing “on behalf of…” which appeared on the original Outlook.com and defeated the purpose of even bothering with the alias. The other upgrade is improved SkyDrive. Now users can select photos saved to SkyDrive and turn them into thumbnails that include the proper permission for recipients. While SMTP Send is ready for users now, SkyDrive will be out for users worldwide in the coming weeks.
In addition to SMTP Send, you can now make an alias for your Outlook.com account, set it to primary, and delete the original. Since emails can be sent from the new alias account and you can sign in with it, you basically made a new Outlook.com account with closing the original or actually making a new one. You could also say that you got to change your email account name, something that would always be great to do without the hassle of creating a new account–which isn’t changing the name–or going through the email service provider and requesting a change.
That’s the smell of convenience.
Earlier this week, we reported that Skype would bring video and voice chat to Outlook in the coming weeks. This is after Microsoft decided to do away with Window Live IM/MSN IM in favor of the popular chat service. You could say that all the ducks are in a row for Outlook to reel in another couple hundred million members with all communication features—aside from microblogging and blogging in general—being in one accessible location.
Personally, Outlook.com does work better than Hotmail. I rarely bothered with Hotmail before because of the layout and how cluttered everything appeared so it mainly hung around as a backup account and a place to pick up whatever Bing Rewards I snagged. However, it might actually see some use this time around.
How did you find the upgrade to Outlook.com? If you weren’t using Microsoft email services before will you use them now?