Microsoft Intros Outlook.com, Attracts 1 Million Users In 6 Hours

August 1, 2012
Image Credit: Pincasso / Shutterstock

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

It took just six hours for Microsoft to reach one million users who signed up for a new Outlook.com email address. Microsoft opened the virtual doors on the cloud-based personal email service this week. The Twitter account @Outlook tweeted yesterday to say “One million people have signed up for a new, modern email experience at Outlook.com. Thanks!” The tweet also contained the hashtag #outlookpreview and a chart showing registration skyrocket from zero to one million.

By contrast, Gmail took longer to reach one million users because Google seeded invitations to industry insiders and web savvy users, who got to invite friends. Google initially invited about 1,000 opinion leaders. Each Gmail user was given a limited number of invitations to send to friends. Recent numbers released by Google say that Gmail has more than 425 million active users globally, CNET reports.

Comparisons to Gmail are plenty. Outlook.com was created to compete directly with Google’s popular free, web-based email service. Microsoft plans to integrate Outlook.com with a number of its properties, as well as social networking sites on the web. Outlook.com opens attachments within the window, including files using Microsoft’s Office suite such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It’s expected that Microsoft will also integrate Skype, which it recently acquired. That will further compete with Google Talk, an online video chat service Google built and has embedded within Gmail.

Outlook.com’s membership of one million and counting continues to grow, but it’s likely that those who signed up in the first day are early adopters, and some of the same web savvy folks who got invitations to Gmail early on. Users rush to sign up for a new service such as Outlook.com to reserve the email address they want. Latecomers will be stuck with mary3892@outlook.com.

The challenge for Microsoft will be to migrate its users of legacy email offerings including @hotmail.com, @msn.com and @live.com. When Microsoft initiated its @live.com domain and began offering email with the @live.com domain, it made efforts to move users from Hotmail and MSN email accounts. That was largely unsuccessful and many users still log into email accounts under those domains.

When users log into their Hotmail accounts they will see an “Upgrade” button, that will walk them through a transition to an Outlook.com account. Users moving from a legacy email system under the Microsoft umbrella have the option to keep their original address of @hotmail.com or @msn.com. They can also change their email address to an @outlook.com domain. Presumably, Microsoft will handle forwarding services so emails sent to the old address will still be delivered.

What isn’t known, is how many users from Hotmail, MSN and Live.com took notice of the new Outlook.com and migrated their accounts to become one of the million-plus new users.

New and migrating users will benefit from the integrations Microsoft built into its Outlook.com. One of the company’s properties, SkyDrive, is a cloud-based server that gives users 7GB of space for email and files. The cloud-based storage also manages attachments. Instead of the attachment being sent with the original email, it’s only downloaded from the sender’s SkyDrive account when the recipient clicks on the attachment. This helps alleviate traffic volumes.

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