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Outlook.com Accounts Begin Migration to Office 365 Interface

Email On Acid

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.

About the Author

Tanya Wheeler-Berliner

Tanya Wheeler-Berliner

A lifelong word nerd with a background in communications, public relations and marketing, Tanya spends her days debating hyphenation rules and extolling the benefits of the Oxford comma.

Join the Discussion

When will you start supporting the other version of Outlook.com. Microsoft has two entirely separate versions of Outlook.com, both with different email rendering engines, both causing their own set of unique problems.

The Outlook.com version at domain "*.mail.live.com" (for @outlook addresses) handles things like `line-height` and `<font>` entirely different from the Outlook.com version at domain "outlook.live.com" (for @hotmail addresses).

Heck, even their user interfaces look different, even though they share the same login system and the Microsoft both brands them identically as "Outlook Mail" and offers no choice to users; the distinction seems to be entirely dependant on the domain of the emailaddress.

Given both have a significant userbase, they should really both be included.
Martijn W. van der Lee
Martijn,
Thank you for your feedback! We would love to be able to add legacy Hotmail to our service, and it's something we may be able to do in the future. One issue with this is that newer Hotmail addresses display with the new UI and engine. Because we can't sign up for legacy Hotmail accounts, it makes it difficult for us to offer testing at a reasonable speed in that client.

We'll keep your request in mind!
Geoff Phillips
Curious why the live.com and hotmail.com addresses have migrated but the outlook.com email accounts are stuck. This makes working with the Microsoft Outlook 2016 email app a bit frustrating as not all features are activated yet for the outlook.com account. Have we missed something?
Interested Reader

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