Touting “a refined inbox, new ways to collaborate, an upgraded calendar and much more,” the Outlook.com migration to an Office 365 interface has begun. Some lucky (I’m using the term loosely here as we are talking about Outlook) users have already moved into the new environment while others are signing up to be next in line.
A quick recap
A synopsis of the Microsoft-Hotmail relationship for those who haven’t been following: Microsoft purchased Hotmail at the end of 1997 and continued to offer the free email platform in various iterations. In 2007, MSN Hotmail was rebranded and relaunched as Windows Live Hotmail. Then, in 2010 Hotmail was updated with features to compete with Gmail including 10 GB of free space.
After supporting the client for nearly 15 years, Outlook.com was launched in July 2012 as a replacement for Hotmail and all Hotmail users were migrated to Outlook.com by March 2013. At its inception, Outlook.com allowed users to sync their accounts with various social networks and offered “virtually unlimited storage.” Now, by the end of 2015, every Outlook.com account will be using the Office 365 interface.
What does this mean for Outlook.com users?
The look and feel of Outlook.com has always been familiar—it is, after all, a Microsoft email environment—but after the transition, it will be more closely aligned to the upcoming desktop and Windows 10 versions of the Outlook app. Here are current screenshots of Outlook.com and Office 365, both in a Chrome browser, Windows environment:
Outlook.com users will receive a number of new features through the migration, which were previously reserved for Microsoft’s paying customers. These include:
- The new Clutter folder
- Improved search functionality
- Link previews in email text
- Inline image capability
- Improved sharing from and editing within OneDrive
- Easier management of shared calendars
- Inbox themes
- Pop out email and email composition boxes
- New add-in compatibility
- Skype integration
What does this mean for email testing?
While you join us in waiting for that glorious day when there is one less version of Outlook to worry about (that is, until Outlook 2016 arrives), we encourage you to continue applying coding fixes and workarounds for Outlook.com, particularly if you have a large number of Outlook.com users reading your emails. If you are looking for coding tips, we have a number of techniques to use specifically for this tricky client.
You’ll be able to continue testing for Outlook.com, as well, until the Email on Acid accounts have completed their migration to Office 365. We haven’t requested early migration to give you as much time as possible to continue to test in the old Outlook.com environment and will let you know when our accounts have made the transition.
Thoughts on this change?
Do you have an Outlook.com or Hotmail account? How do you feel about this change? Are any email developers out there particularly excited about the migration? Let us know in the comments below.