Microsoft today alerted customers that the ongoing migration to the new Outlook.com comes with a hidden cost: You will no longer be able to use Windows Live Mail 2012 to access the service.
“Earlier this year we introduced a new Outlook.com and began rolling out an exciting new email and calendar experience to users worldwide,” Microsoft corporate vice president Javier Soltero writes. “So far we’ve upgraded more than 175 million accounts and each week millions more people are using the new Outlook.com to collaborate effortlessly, focus on what matters and get more done.”
Which is fine. But because the new Outlook.com experience is built on top of a new technical foundation that is based on Office 365, those using Windows Live Mail 2012 to access their email are out of luck: Windows Live Mail works fine with the Hotmail-based infrastructure that Outlook.com previously used. But not the new infrastructure.
“You will not be able to send or receive Outlook.com email from Windows Live Mail 2012 after your account is upgraded [to the new experience],” Soltero adds. “This means the time has come for you to upgrade to a new email application.”
Microsoft, of course, recommends the Mail app that is built into Windows. The Windows 10 version of this app is actually pretty decent, but the version in Windows 8.x is terrible. You could also use Microsoft Outlook.
Windows 7 users advised to “upgrade to a newer version of Windows to enjoy the Mail app and the other benefits.” Or, if you don’t wish to do that, you can simply access Outlook.com on the web, and Microsoft will provide you with a free year of Office 365 Personal. Those who qualify will receive an email with information on redeeming this offer. (The Office 365 subscription includes Outlook 2016, of course.)
Windows Live Mail is still available for free as part of the Windows Live Essentialspackage. But it’s been deprecated and is no longer being updated, and could disappear from the web at any time.
If you are still using Windows Live Mail for some reason, Microsoft will not start your Outlook.com upgrade until June 30, 2016, so you have some time to plan for the change.