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When we launched the preview of Outlook.com, our goal was to build the best email service in the world, capable of scaling to over a billion active customers. When Outlook.com came out of preview, it was already the fastest growing email service thanks to your support. The last two months have seen the release of a new, modern Outlook.com calendar, a refreshed Outlook.com app for Android devices, two-factor authentication for your account, new international domains for people around the world, and the release of a preview of Skype calling in Outlook.com.
Today, we're excited to announce that we've completed upgrading all Hotmail customers to Outlook.com. Coupled with the growing organic excitement for Outlook.com, this has pushed us to over 400 million active Outlook.com accounts, including 125 million that are accessing email, calendar and contacts on a mobile device using Exchange ActiveSync. We're also pleased to announce that we're adding two new features to Outlook.com: SMTP send, so it's easier to send mail from different email addresses, and deeper integration with SkyDrive.
When Outlook.com came out of preview in February, it already had more than 60 million active accounts. However, Hotmail was still one of the most widely used services, with over 300 million active accounts. 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. With your help, we were able to do all of that in just about 6 weeks. We've spent the last few weeks ensuring that everything was completed in line with our high quality expectations.
We've been focused throughout the upgrade on ensuring that every customer has a great experience. We've been overwhelmed with the response so far, based on the comments we've received. Here are just a few of the verbatim comments that were sent through the in-product feedback tool:
To underscore the differences between the two services, here's a screenshot comparing Hotmail to Outlook.com. You can instantly see the difference in the clean new look. The chrome is minimized so your content is front and center, information is organized so that you can easily see what's most important, large display ads are gone and the entire visual aesthetic is designed to be fast and intuitive.
BEFORE: The final look of Hotmail.com
AFTER: The modern look of Outlook.com
Of course, whenever a widely-used consumer service makes any substantial change, there will always be some folks that don't like it, and that shows up in the feedback, too. It's gratifying in a sense because it means those customers loved the previous set of changes we made. With a communication service that is constantly evolving, we try to strike the right balance between bringing out major improvements and keeping true to what our customers love. Our belief is that as people start using the new experience, they will come to love it even more than they loved Hotmail. We are keenly listening to what our customers have to say, and we'll make the right set of adjustments to ensure that we make the experience as great as it can be. So to all those providing feedback: thank you and keep it coming. In addition, during the upgrade period we experienced a few service interruptions, and we've worked hard to respond quickly to each one. We know you rely on your email and for those who were impacted we apologize and appreciate your continued support.
Here are a few of the most common things we've heard about:
You can find answers to other frequently asked questions and more on this page.
With the upgrade complete we've turned our energy and attention to future innovation and to making Outlook.com even better based on your feedback. You've seen a number of these updates over the past few weeks, and today, we're starting to roll out a few more. We'll be releasing the new SMTP send and SkyDrive integration gradually, so it may take a few weeks before everyone using Outlook.com sees those new features.
You've always been able to send and receive email from other accounts using your Outlook.com account. But, in the past, when you sent email from Outlook.com using a different email address (say, because you switched from Gmail and are still using that Gmail address when you reply to folks), the recipients would see the email being sent "on behalf of" that other account. For instance, this could look like this:
We knew this was a pain point for some people, and could be a real problem if you had a hidden alias, e.g. when Bruce Wayne wanted to send email as Batman. So now we've made it so that email sent from a different account goes through that account's SMTP server. That way, the recipient just sees that account's email address, like this:
This should work for any email provider that provides POP or IMAP access. If you want to take advantage of this feature, in the Options menu , click More mail settings, click Your email accounts, and then scroll down to the section titled Add an email account:
From there, you can add a send-only or a send-and-receive account, and we'll configure the SMTP server settings as part of that. This new SMTP send capability will be available worldwide in the coming weeks.
There are a number of ways we've integrated Outlook.com and SkyDrive: a single Microsoft account for signing in, a shared contact list and set of connected networks, the ability to send large attachments, a shared header, and much more. Today, we're excited to release the direct integration of SkyDrive into the Outlook.com compose experience. When you're sending an email message, you can select files from your SkyDrive and we'll automatically turn those into the right thumbnails with links that have the right permissions tied to people that receive the email. When you insert pictures from SkyDrive, you automatically get a beautiful photo mail. And it's easy to edit the message, and add or remove files and pictures right from the new message compose experience. This new integration is starting to roll out today and will be available worldwide in the coming weeks.
Here's what that will look like:
We want to give a huge "Thank you" to all of you who have supported Hotmail over the years, for some of you, that's going back as far as 1996. It has been an amazing journey and we've been honored to provide you with a great mail experience for many years. When we launched the original preview of Outlook.com, we knew that we were committing to building the world's best email with a brand and product experience that spans from consumers all the way to the largest organizations. We're excited to have you join Outlook.com as we write the next chapter in modern email from Microsoft.
Thank you for all the feedback along the way and everything you did to help make Outlook.com the best and fastest growing personal email out there. We're excited to keep hearing from you and there's a lot more to come. Welcome to the new Outlook.com and onwards to a billion inboxes!
-- Dick Craddock, Group Program Manager, Outlook.com
(This post was updated to clarify that the SMTP send capability would also be rolling out over a period of a few weeks.)
These are great features! I can't wait to use them. It's a big upgrade to anything else I've ever used.
PLEASE let me add an external acct via IMAP! I'd be using Outlook.com as my sole webmail provider, then!
Now your task is to recover the terabyes of mail, contacts, and skydrive you all lost for millions of people during the migration. Not cool, Microsoft.
Insert image into body of text..
Please, give us ability to change pictures of our contacts! And increase number of emails per contact. Having 3 (Personal, Work and Other) is not enough
Is the SMTP fix not working for anyone else? "on behalf of" is still showing up on emails I send out with another address.
I really like the new Outlook and enjoy using it on my Android phone (Note 2), although the text is a bit large. But the SINGLE, WORST issue with Outlook, which sadly has never been addressed or fixed since the hotmail days, is how you can so easily deselect a bunch of selected emails/conversations if you click just outside of a check box.
So, you tediously selected 10+ messages to delete or whatever, and then the 11th message you barely select outside the check box and POOF! all the messages are now deselected!
It's ridiciulous and so frustrating and has been an issue with Hotmail for probably a decade or more and has NEVER been an issue with Gmail. It's the one thing I hate about Outlook and hope you guys will SOMEDAY SOON address this!!
Is ActiveSync working reliably yet? Last time I wanted to make the switch from Google Apps, I almost immediately came across an omnipresent 'Too many devices' error in Outlook 2013. After two days of fighting and frustration, with no real solutions from the Outlook.com team ("it's still a Preview!"), I had no other option but to come crawling back to Google.
Now that the Google sync in the Windows 8 Calendar app is gone for good, I'd very much like to switch to Outlook.com, but I need to be 100% certain that it'll work as expected.
All this, and still no way to add pictures to your contacts. I respect the effort it must have taken to move all these users, but wouldn't it have been wiser to make the product feature-complete before doing so?
While your work to remove the "Sent on Behalf Of..." is admirable, unfortunately it's somewhat incomplete. We can seemingly only send from the SMTP server of the 3rd party account IF we add it in Outlook.com Mail Settings > E-Mail accounts as a send + receive account. Only then can we enter the SMTP server settings. However, the downside to this is, Outlook attempts to pull mail down from that server into the Outlook.com account inbox... which isn't desirable. For example, I can tell the 3rd party account on the server to "forward" mail sent to it to email@example.com, which is near instant push. As such, I should be able to tell Outlook.com's settings to use their SMTP server to send mail, effectively bridging the 2 services - my mail account and Outlook.com Forcing us to have Outlook.com to poll the 3rd party server as a send + receive account addition, without letting us specificy the SMTP server for a "send only" account is a downer.
Gravatar integration would save Microsoft a lot of time in this area.
@JurajKovac - ActiveSync is working great! There was a bug that hit a small number of people with the initial release of Outlook 2013 that has been fixed, so make sure to get the latest updates.
i for one really enjoy using my email on outlook.com. for once, a mail service where the spam filter ACTUALLY WORKS. all other email services' spam filters (especially gmail's) are a joke!
PLEASE fix Outlook 2013 for supporting send emails from other accounts/aliases like now in the modified web app!!!! PLEEEAASSSSEEEEE!
please add aliases support on Outlook 2013 for Outlook.com/Hotmail.com account...i can't believe this works in the (poor) windows 8 mail app and not in the full featurerd Outlook mail client.