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One year since the preview of Outlook.com – thank you for helping us build the world’s fastest growing email

A year ago today, we introduced the preview of Outlook.com. It was the first step in our mission to reimagine personal email, from the datacenter all the way to the customer experience. As we said then, the launch of the preview was just the start. It represented an opportunity to learn together as we rolled out and scaled this new service. It’s been an exciting and feature-packed 12 months since then.

You’ve been a tremendous help in making Outlook.com a better service for all of us-and the world’s fastest growing email service-so we want to take a moment to say thank you. Your feedback has been key to delivering over 600 additions, changes and improvements, packaged in 34 feature releases in the last year.

Delivering on personal email

In the past, we’ve talked about how we believe in an email service that’s personal-one that’s designed for the type of email you receive, keeps your address book updated with your people, works with the services you choose, and puts you in control.  Another very important aspect of email that’s personal is that your feedback and input are a core part of how we designed and continue to update Outlook.com.

Of course, we do a great deal of research and testing throughout our development process. But just as important is the feedback we get once you’re using the product. We started by changing how we collect feedback, making it far more prominent in the UI. In fact, the average number of monthly feedback submissions for Outlook.com is about 50 times what we received with Hotmail. This alone has been huge in getting a wealth of information about what you’d like to see to improve Outlook.com. This is in addition to all the things we hear through focus groups, research, events, and of course on this blog.

All of this feedback is triaged daily or weekly to provide a list of what we’re hearing, the current status on investigation, and the plan for what we’re going to do. Some feedback is pretty clear, like “can you add <feature>?” When feedback is less clear, we’ll often reach out directly to the person giving the feedback, to understand more about what they’re asking for. We also work very closely with our support team to parse this info, because one person’s feature request can be another person’s support issue.

Some of the feedback is asking for major, prominent new features. But more often, it’s for a whole range of smaller things that might not be as noticeable, but when you add them all up, become a huge part of what makes Outlook.com the email service that’s truly personal. 

Top 12 in the last 12 months

In terms of the size of the feature, here are the top twelve that have been delivered based on your feedback.

We know there are 1 or 2 big ones you’ve asked for that we haven’t quite gotten to yet.  We hear you and we’re working on it. 

And about 600 more improvements thanks to you

While all of those big features are what people often notice most, one of the things that we believe is key to Outlook.com is a real pride in craftsmanship and attention to detail.  This means that any piece of feedback big or minutely small is important and we work hard to ensure that every feature and scenario is polished.

For example, when it came to the header, we thought a lot about whether to put Mail, People, Calendar, SkyDrive and other header links as persistent visual items or go with a drawer-like option where they only appear when you want them.  We have a strong focus on content over chrome, giving you more of what you want and less clutter, so we opted for the drawer. Like other UI elements, we had the drop-down option only appear when you hover over it. But a piece of feedback we heard often was that people were having trouble finding their calendar. So we made the drop-down caret persistent rather than being enabled on hover.  A simple change that dramatically reduced the number of people having trouble finding their calendar.

Outlook.com logo and caret

Sometimes it’s not even about changing the feature, but just ensuring you have a choice.  For example, while most people want to go to the next message after deleting or moving a mail, there were some who wanted to return to their inbox.  So we made that an option that you could configure.

Default view after moving or deleting email

There are many more changes that improve usability, save you a click here or there, provide more flexibility, speed up performance, provide more fluid animations, and improve discoverability. 

Performance and reliability are key

In the last 12 months, we’ve made over 100 updates to help improve performance, reliability and stability.  Sometimes, it’s about better compression, network routing, or other similar things that speed up data flow. Other times, it’s about smart caching or adding intelligence on how your experience works to improve performance. For instance, as you’re reading a message, we’ll be caching the message before and after so if you hit Next (or Previous) that message can load a lot faster. Other times, it’s about UI that helps improve the perception of performance. For example, when a file is uploading, having a clear progress bar helps make people comfortable that things are moving along. However we attack a problem, all of this investment is geared to ensuring you have a high-performing and reliable service. 

That said, we had some bumps over the last year and there were places where our performance hasn’t met the high standard we set for ourselves.  A few months ago, we had a temperature spike that impacted one of our data centers and caused some customers to suffer a service outage for about half a day.  And over the past few weeks, we’ve had a few periods where performance for some customers in Europe was unacceptably slow. So while there’s a lot to be proud of in the last year, we are not okay with these types of issues. We’ve fully investigated and fixed those specific items and made sure they don’t happen again. We take performance and reliability very seriously, so if you ever think there’s a problem, visit your service status dashboard to see if we’re aware of an issue or visit our support center for more help. We’ll absolutely continue to invest a ton in performance and reliability to ensure you have a stellar experience that keeps getting better.

Thank you and keep the feedback coming

It’s been a pretty busy and exciting 12 months (and less than 6 months since we came out of preview on February 19).  Thank you all for the hundreds of improvements you’ve helped us make, and for choosing to make Outlook.com part of your daily lives. We’re excited about where we are today, the world’s fastest growing email service-and there’s still a ton more to come.  So keep letting us know what you want to see next and how we can deliver an amazing personal email service for you. You can always leave comments on the blog or by using the feedback tool in the product. Just click on Feedback from the options menu in your Outlook.com inbox.

Thanks again.

–Dick Craddock, Group Program Manager, Outlook.com

Join the conversation

48 comments
  1. outlook.com needs IMAP sport please please please bagging you

    • We’re aware that this is a top request, and we definitely hear the feedback.

      • IMAP of course, how about EWS, will Mac users ever see this? Also, will Live Domains and Outlook.com ever support email aliases (distribution lists), i.e. info@example.com that will forward to multiple recipients?

        All, please can I have the moon on a stick. :)

  2. Yeah, I switched six months ago from Gmail to Outlook.com hoping that you’d add support for IMAP, CalDAV, or CardDAV, or at the very least, create a connector so I could use Outlook.com with my Mac’s Mail app. I really miss using that app when I’m, at home. It is the one thing I really do miss from Gmail. I know that many people have asked for this feature. I really hope Microsoft can do something about this soon, because other than this I am really happy with Outlook.com and SkyDrive.

    It’s funny (sad?) that I can use a really nice native mail client on my phone (Lumia 920) and my tablet (iPad) but not on my laptop. *sigh*

  3. And I still cannot add photos to my contacts, neither in Outlook.com nor in the Windows 8 contact app. Is it really that difficult to add a contact photo field to your database backend? I can’t switch from Gmail to Outlook.com just because of this limitation.

  4. Love the service – keep up the great work!

  5. How about supporting server-side SSL encryption? Passing the CheckTLS.com tests (sender and receiver) would give users a lot of confidence!

    • So glad to see somebody pointed this out…

  6. Thank you Microsoft, for the pure awesomeness that is Outlook.com! Congratulations!

  7. Outlook.com is great, just one request please add the option to reduce the image (Attachment) size, not just re sizing the picture but reducing the file size by reducing the resolution. This is really important if we would like to send pictures to some one who has slow internet connection.

  8. i would like to see outlook use a Instant Messenger….

    • You can access the messaging features in several ways. Start by clicking the Chat icon in the upper-right, near your name. From here you can start chats with any contacts on Messenger, or connect to Skype, Facebook, or Gmail to chat with contacts on those services. If you get an email from a contact on one of these services, you can click on their picture in the email header to see options to start chats or calls.

  9. I would like the ability to use a custom domain email address (like foo@example.com) as an alias for your account – or the ability to rename your account to a custom domain email.

  10. I would love to move from Gmail, but I can’t do so without IMAP, so I can access Outlook mail through Mail.app on my Mac.
    We could also get some love via a connector or support for EAS through Outlook for Mac…
    Or even just enable some EWS magic ;-)

  11. Very nice progress guys, but have to echo Johndoe39de – really need the ability to add our own image for contacts.

    • You can. Just do it on Peoples.

      • No you cannot select a picture for your contacts. It is retrieved only from linked accounts like Facebook.

  12. I have paid for Office 365 Home Premium and I cannot download the system into my laptop so it could be updated. If I can’t update my laptop please refund my money that I spend on buying Office 365 Home premium. Or make the service available for me to download. Thank you

  13. Thank you for the feedback. We know there are still a few things you have been asking for and as Dick notes in the blog are working on it.

  14. When I first started using outlook last year you offered a great feature to assign contacts to groups thru a drop down list. This feature was removed about the time hotmail was absorbed into outlook. The new grouping is borderline useless to me. Please bring back the functionality you had at launch.

  15. I have been a hotmail user for 10+ years and was willing to accept the adjustment to outlook last year, I liked the ability to create my alias and that I would not loose that feature. I also was extremely fond that I could link two accounts and switch between them, which is great since I run a home based business and checking personal and business and not having to log in and out definitely was time efficient, I am not happy with the lose of that feature. Was there a sole purpose to losing that feature? Otherwise I like the layouts, the features, picture in line, ability to block multiple junk addresses at once and plenty of more reasons. But I am upset about this change.

    • The change was made to improve security; in case one account gets hacked, other accounts are no longer vulnerable. To make it easier for you to switch accounts, the login page remembers the account names you’ve used, so you can type the first few letters, arrow down, and press enter to select that name. Of course, you still need to type your password, but this saves a few keystrokes.

  16. Congratulations Outlook.com and team outlook. One of the long time request is still pending.

    In outlook active view, the pictures are displayed as slide show only if the picture size is below 2 MB. If we get photos exceeding 2MB, the only option is ‘Download’. No Slideshow button available. So please increase size of photos for slideshow in outlook.com

  17. Alan, just click the "To" link above the input field. When the page first opens, the dropdown shows only your most frequently emailed contacts. If you start typing names, we will automatically show any names in your contact list that match. If you want to browse, then clicking To shows the full list. If you have a lot of contacts, you can click one of the letter icons in the list to quickly jump around.

  18. - No inserting images from the Clipboard after I do a screenshot;
    - No Autocomplete box in the From and To in the Advanced search;

    the rest is great!

  19. With all these feature you still cannot get the mobile experience right. It lacks so many mobile feature and behaviors. I have been a hotmail user for over 10 years now and I am about to switch soon if mobile experience will not improve.

    • Thanks for the feedback. If your feedback is about our mobile web experience, that’s an issue we’re aware of, and are considering improvements for a future release.

      We also offer the EAS protocol to have good support on most mobile mail clients. For instructions on how to set this up, go here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/outlook-to-go?woldogcb=0

  20. Turn on STARTTLS on your mail exchanges. Gmail didn’t adopt it right from the beginning either. Given recent focus on Outlook.com about cooperations with the certain intel orgs this seems an appropriate point to introduce it.

  21. I HATE it! Features that I have used repeatedly are either gone, or so obscure that I cannot find them! It was NOT broken! Why did you ‘fix’ ti????

  22. It’s available in multiple languages, what language are you looking for?

  23. I REALLY, REALLY DO NOT LIKE how Outlook bundles emails together. I don’t want or need that feature. It should be an option. Users should have control over some features with the ability to pick and choose them at any time. If I send an email to different people, I want it to remain that way in my inbox or sent messages so that I can easily locate them. I do not mind if I get 23 responses to 1 BCC email I sent to 37 people and they are separate. For the phone ok, but for my home computer I don’t need to "save space".
    Just give me the power to customize my email features.
    Thank you!
    Also, if I send a BCC email to 23 people, I want to be able to see the "sent to" list later.

    • You can turn off the conversation grouping feature. Click on the gear icon in the upper-right near your name, and click "More mail settings". In the next page, on the bottom left, click, "Group by conversation and pre-load messages". Click on "Show messages individually" and then click Save.

    • I would also appreciate knowing how to turn off the bundle related email feature if anyone has the answer?!

  24. Hi,

    I really like Outlook.com and I am happy about the service. BUT I am unhappy how Outlook.com und Outlook 2013 work together. Although I bought Outlook 2013 a while ago, I migrated back to Outlook 2010.

    There is NO syncing of Reply- / Forward-States at Emails. This is a key feature of Exchange Active Sync 14.0 and I realy need it! Why is this not supported though both are microsoft products? Where is the the power of Outlook 2013 behind my Outlook.com email?

  25. Congratulations on the first Outlook..com anniversary.
    It has been vastly improved in a year. Although it has improved as well, the android app lacks some essential features. Please condider the following suggestions:

    1. Send email from aliasses & “send-and-receive / send-only” accounts from within the app
    2. New mail notifications (notification panel) should display the Name of the sender and subject. Also make use of Jelly Bean’s Extended notifications (display the full text of new mail) and Actionable Notifications (Reply or delete from notifications – without the need to open the app)
    3. Add new widget (1*1 icon only) that shows number of new messages on top of outlook icon
    4. Make existing widget resizable (so we can enlarge it) and contents scrollable
    5. Custom notifications for new mail from specific contacts / folders (especially useful when using Rules / Sweep) and option to notify only for specific contacts / folders
    6. Add Tasks sync
    7. Option for black background (instead of white) which is more energy efficient on AMOLED screens

    • Thanks for the suggestions for the Android app. We’re always looking to improve.

  26. First of all, congratulations on your first anniversary! Great that you listen to your customers. Great that you strive to improve Outlook.com. Please, continue good work. I hope to see the best e-mail service possible from you.

    I like what you are saying about giving people a choice. That is important. But, unfortunately, while giving people a choice in smaller matters, you haven’t given them a choice in a bigger one: I mean the ability NOT to be able to sign in with their aliases. I really can’t understand who on Earth would want to sign in with their alias, but if there really was a demand for that feature, why not make it optional? Why not allow people to choose which of their aliases (if any) they want to use for signing in? If that is technically impossible, you could explain it in this blog.

    Speaking of aliases, why not make them true aliases, allowing people to enter a name for each alias? I have just noticed that you allowed that for send-only and send-and-receive accounts (Thank you! Looks like I won’t have to log in to another account to reply to a forwarded e-mail anymore). Why not allow the same for your own aliases?

    And another suggestion. Is it possible to give people an option to automatically override the default "From" address if they are responding to an e-mail sent to a different address. I mean, someone sends me an e-mail to Address1. Most likely, I will want to respond to them from Adress1, even if I have Address2 as a default "From" address in the option. And it’s easy to forget to change the "From" address manually when sending a letter.

    And I would also like to echo the request from the previous comment to add the ability to choose an alias or a send-only/send-and-receive account on a device, this time for Windows Phone.

    Once again, thank you for your great work!

  27. The only complaints I have:

    - Server-side SSL encryption needed
    - Ability to add photos to contact info independently

  28. Couple a UI/UX things would really be brilliant.

    1. Auto complete email addresses for people who are not in the address book, but who I have had email contact with. There are lots of people I want to write to but who I don’t have on the book.

    2. Figure out some way to have 2 emails open at the same time so I can copy and paste/compare when composing. Yahoo does this with tabs, which is pretty good. Gmail with the pop out compose box, which is OK but badly positioned for desktop users.

    Onward!

    • "1. Auto complete email addresses for people who are not in the address book, but who I have had email contact with. There are lots of people I want to write to but who I don’t have on the book."

      Are you talking about this?
      Inbox>Options>Advanced privacy settings

  29. Hello,

    2 different Microsoft online support consultants have provided me with no resolution to my problem. They have just given me links to other support pages which I had already explained to them I have unable for 2 weeks to successfully post to those forum pages because my account seems blocked from submitting questions/discussions.

    I asked both consultants to transfer and escalate my concern with a copy of the detailed chat transcripts to the department /people who would be able to rectify the issue I have been having and neither of them actioned this request. In the middle of conversation both consultants terminated the chat/live help session without having provided any resolution. I have a copy of both chat transcripts saved for your review and would appreciate it if you could action fixing the problem I have and also provide me with feedback as to why these help desk staff resources were unable to provide any assistance at all…..

    For a really long time my hotmail/outlook.com email account has been enforcing a limit of 5 attachments per email.

    I am even encountering this problem when I have zero visible/separate file attachments but there are invisible embedded images in other peoples signatures further down the email chain that I am trying to either reply to or forward.

    If someone could please tell me how to quickly rectify this problem it would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you very much.

  30. It would be great having those features:

    1) "Send and archive" when replying to a messsage so that the conversation is out of the inbox.

    2) Ability to "Create an event" In the "action" drop down menu when replying to an email.

    3) Improve the rules section adding "mark as read"

    4) Ability to create canned response

    The rest is perfect!

  31. I use outlook a lot as before it was msn, but i do have a slight problem, whenever i sign in instead of automatically logging me in it seems to hang and not log me in, i then have to refresh my browser and log in again or put the outlook.com url in my browser, do you know why this happens instead of going directly to the inbox thanks would truly appreciate a good answer.

  32. I will never use Outlook email until it provides IMAP.

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