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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.)
Outlook Android app hasn't allowed me to login in for a week now. Android 2.2. Login-> Allow access? -> Yes -> Failed -> Please try again.
I know my login is correct because I can login from the browser.
Finally! The SMTP Send feature is implemented badly however now it can be hacked so at least we can send e-mail from our custom domains without "on behalf".
SMTP Send is obviously meant for Gmail switchers and ignores people with Custom Live Domains, but even if you really are switching from Gmail, you can keep your mail forwarding and still send via Gmail's SMTP servers without downloading mails again from POP.
1. Create some random empty POP capable mail account that will not receive any mail
2. In Outlook.com add Send-and-Receive account
3. Input your desired custom domain e-mail addres and in the POP settings, fill in the account you've created in 1. step.
4. In SMTP settings, unselect "Use the same username and password to send and receive email " and fill your real SMTP credentials to your custom SMTP server (Google Apps, or standard Gmail, or other 3rd party you want to use)
5. Click Save and on the next screen, let it "put downloaded mail" directly to Inbox.
6. Finish. Keep mail forwarding from your original account to Outlook.com as it was.
Now Outlook.com will keep checking the fake step 1. mailbox via POP. It will be always empty so it will not download any new or duplicate messages. But allows you to send mail from Outlook.com via your custom SMTP server which does not add stupid "on behalf" to your messages.
Remember to have correct SPF/TXT entries in your custom domain's DNS if you are using it to prevent marking sent mail as a spam etc.
@Gary - We have a known issue on Android 2.2, a fix is in the works.
@ObscenePanda - That's a lot of work :) You can just setup an SMTP send only address without jumping through the POP hoops as well. Please note that this isn't rolled out to all users yet, but is on the way.
Well done Microsoft - SMTP send is long overdue. How about adding this feature to Send Only accounts?
I think the they're aiming to have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter profile linking fill-in that gap, but I understand what you mean. I have about a handful of contacts that do not have profile pics because they're not on any social networks or we're not friends in those social networks. On mine, that's about a handful out of 1000+ contacts
Yikes. POP retrieval interval seems really slow. Sending out email via SMTP also seem really slow.
I cannot see the "Insert" menu as well?
@Zinc666 - When the feature is fully turned on for all users you'll be able to do just that. Sit tight, it's coming soon.
@Mike - The feature isn't fully rolled out to all users, once it is you'll be able to use SMTP send for send only accounts, no need to pull in POP if you don't want to.
You can't see it yet because Microsoft stated in the blog post that it may take a few weeks for the skydrive integration to roll out to all accounts.
Hey Steve, im guessing you're part of the outlook team? Its great to know that being able to enter custom smtp is coming.. though when this feature is complete it would be great if you could send it out to media as with this release so we could also find out about it.
The recent changes to outlook.com and its offerings are great and most welcome.. though there is one very sore outstanding feature.. not being able to link microsoft accounts when any of them use 2 factor authentication. I have 2 hotmail accounts, and a domain setup though live domains, and none of them can be linked to my main hotmail account the sensible way....
The technique suggested by @ObscenePanda is the first that provides the real solution I/we want. Good start though!
It will take some time before the feature rolls out to everyone.
Is there any chance there will be an upgrade to hidpi icons (@2x images or svg/icon fonts) on Outlook.com? The typography and design is very crisp but the icons really stand out as blurry on a retina display.
Why don’t you enable custom SMTP settings for send-only addresses?
Also the article is potentially misleading when it says “you can add a send-only or a send-and-receive account, and we’ll configure the SMTP server settings as part of that”. I just removed my “send-and-receive” address set up days ago to replace it with a “send-only” one, only to end up with the following message.
“It looks like you already added this account. Please check your account info and try again.”
Now what should I do?
And don’t point me to the Microsoft Answers forum which is basically a joke. (Seriously, please, someone at Microsoft just take a look at that forum and see what suggestions those those “support engineers” are making!)