Happy first birthday, Outlook.com!
One year ago this week, Microsoft released the preview version of its web-based consumer email service. Over the past year, Redmond has delivered more than 600 additions, changes, and improvements packaged in 34 feature releases for Outlook.com.
"It's been a pretty busy and exciting 12 months (and less than 6 months since we came out of preview on February 19)," Outlook.com's group product manager, Dick Craddock, wrote in a blog post. "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."
At this point, Outlook.com boasts more than 400 million active accounts, making it the fastest growing email service, according to Microsoft.
Outlook.com launched in preview last summer, and gained 25 million active users in just under four months. It emerged from preview in February with 60 million users. By May, Microsoft had transitioned its entire Hotmail base over to 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," Craddock wrote. "We started by changing how we collect feedback, making it far more prominent in the [user interface]."
Thanks to this change, Microsoft receives around 50 times as much feedback for Outlook.com than it did for Hotmail.
Some of the most important changes Microsoft has made to Outlook.com over the past 12 months, based on user feedback, include Google chat and Skype integration, two-step verification for added security, inline images, drag-and-drop attachments and contacts, and international domains like @outlook.jp. Other major additions include the ability to: sign in with an alias, drag and drop contacts when composing, archive messages, and share from SkyDrive.
Going forward, there are "one or two big [features]" Microsoft is working on for Outlook.com, though the company did not elaborate
Meanwhile, for all its success, Microsoft has faced some challenges along the way, including a half-day service outage back in March. In addition, there have been a few periods over the past few weeks where performance for some European users was "unacceptably slow," Craddock wrote.
To help address these types of problems, the company has made more than 100 updates to help improve performance, reliability, and stability over the past year.
"While there's a lot to be proud of in the last year, we are not okay with these types of issues," Craddock wrote. "We'll absolutely continue to invest a ton in performance and reliability to ensure you have a stellar experience that keeps getting better."