Microsoft has been plotting a major upgrade to its Outlook.com web email service for quite some time. But despite many delays, it appears that the upgrade is final accelerating. And many readers have questions about what is happening.
For background, some may recall that Microsoft first announced this upgrade way back in May 2015. But the upgrade has gone very slowly, which I think helps explain why users are now surprised when things actually do change.
How slowly? In late August 2016—fully 15 months after that first announcement, users started seeing a message about the new Outlook.com rollout not being completed until “the first half of 2017.” A few days later, however, Microsoft denied that was the time frame, and claimed it was 90 percent done migrating users to the new service.
Despite this, Outlook.com users are still seeing that message: I received an email today from Jonah B., who saw the following message on Outlook.com:
We’re currently upgrading Outlook.com accounts. During the upgrade, you won’t be able to share your calendar with some accounts, but you can still send a link to your calendar by clicking “Get a link”. We expect the upgrade to be finished in the first half of 2017. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for using Outlook.com.
Others seem confused when Outlook.com changes unexpectedly, leading me to wonder why Microsoft doesn’t first notify these people before upgrading the service. For example, Jim I. today emailed me with the following:
Yesterday the Microsoft email interface changed completely and without notice, with a message telling me that they “hope I enjoy it”. I see now that my email is apparently disorganized and with some of the last few weeks emails missing. An online search has shown that others seem to be having the same problem.
And I’ve certainly received complaints from a number of people about the new Outlook.com being less than reliable. So it’s bad enough that it’s a surprise, but it’s also kind of a nasty surprise.
On the good news front, some with custom domains—which I take to be the new Outlook.com Premium service, which is itself not fully rolled out either—have been updated to the new interface too. Thomas A. writes:
Just a heads up. I have a custom domain with outlook.com and finally received the new interface/backend today.
That’s a good sign for those who have been wondering what is taking so long. The theory all along has been that the most difficult to migrate accounts—those with shared calendars, perhaps, or custom domains—-would be the last to be upgraded.
One last question, and I get this one a lot:
How can I tell if I have the new Outlook.com?
The new Outlook.com no longer reads Outlook.com on the top. Instead, you will see the words Outlook Mail at the top of the web UI.
Here’s the old UI:
And the new:
Of course, anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’ve been needling Microsoft about the slowness of the upgrade for months. My own Hotmail.com account dates back to 2001, and it still hasn’t been updated. (I had to open a new account to see what it looks like.)
Anyway, Outlook.com is being upgraded. We’re still not clear on the time frame, but we do know that many who have been upgraded are having problems. So this hasn’t been the smoothest transition in Microsoft’s history, and it sort of puts the slow rollout of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in perspective as well.
Tagged with Ask Paul