Starting next week, Microsoft is going to begin actively marketing Outlook.com as an optional upgrade to Hotmail users. Microsoft will start sending out emails to existing users and use display ads to market Outlook.com in an effort to win back Gmail users. "About a third of our users are actually coming from Gmail," admits Microsoft's David Law, director of product management at Outlook.com. Microsoft is trying different ways to ensure Gmail users are interested in Outlook, recently adding a one-click archive button.
In an interview with The Verge, Law says the company has been holding back from pushing Hotmail users to the new Outlook.com interface to ensure the service was ready. "We just wanted to make sure the service was working and working well at scale." Although Microsoft won't start forcing Hotmail users over to Outlook.com just yet, bigger marketing campaigns and changes are planned for early next year.
IMAP is the number one feature request for Outlook.com
I asked Law about plans to support IMAP in future. "That is the number one feature request we hear. We've definitely heard that and understand the feedback." He refused to confirm if the company would add IMAP support in any planned updates. However, Law did drop some hints about some kind of Mac support. "I think we've got a bit of a good solution on the client side coming for that," he says, but he declined to confirm if a dedicated app is planned.
Finally, I quizzed Law on Microsoft's recently released Outlook app for Android. The company has been criticized for a lackluster approach to the design and functionality, but Law says it really belongs in the Android 2.x world. "Going forward we're definitely looking at the 4.x users and trying to improve that and make it much better and a modern experience for those guys."