Microsoft is making good on hints it revealed at its Ignite conference earlier this month: It's moving its email service Outlook.com closer to its other productivity apps, notably Office 365.
Outlook.com will run on Office 365 technology with an Office 365 interface, Microsoft announced today.
In this morning’s blog post from the Outlook team, Outlook.com users got a glimpse of the opt-in features that are on the way to start the process of moving the service. Microsoft claims the update to Outlook.com includes a refined inbox, new ways to collaborate, an upgraded calendar and more.
The update rolls out today in Preview to a small group of customers.Microsoft called it "the first of many innovations coming as we upgrade Outlook.com to a new Office 365-based infrastructure.”
However, before users start panicking about migration and related issues, the bottom line is that endusers won’t notice much difference.
In fact, looking at the screen shots that Microsoft provided, it appears to be a lot sharper and intuitive, with more functionally that corresponds with what is already available across Office 365.
Microsoft’s Office 365 service already had Outlook Web Access and, as expected, it looks like it is aligning the new Outlook.com with that. Microsoft defines it as a richer and more engaging experience that keeps the familiar look and feel of the current inbox.
So why bother? What not leave it as it as a standalone product? While Microsoft hasn’t really explained, it is likely that it wants to keep all its email services aligned, including Outlook, Exchange and Office 365.
In this respect Outlook.com was out on its own so placing it on top of Office 365 technology seems like a good way to ensure it keeps up to date with the rest of the Microsoft portfolio.
For those that are still not convinced about a smooth transition, it might be worth recalling when Outlook.com morphed out of Hotmail .com and the relative ease with which that was accomplished.