Dick Craddock, Group Program Manager of Outlook.com, confirmed on Thursday that the days of Hotmail are over, that everyone has been upgraded to the new Outlook.com client. This move has pushed the new service over 400 million active users, he said, including 125 million that are accessing email, calendar and contacts on a mobile device using Exchange ActiveSync.
"When Outlook.com came out of preview in February, it already had more than 60 million active accounts," he said. "However, Hotmail was still one of the most widely used services, with over 300 million active accounts. This made the magnitude of the process incredible, maybe even unprecedented. This meant communicating with hundreds of millions of people, upgrading all their mailboxes--equaling more than 150 million gigabytes of data--and making sure that every person's mail, calendar, contacts, folders, and personal preferences were preserved in the upgrade."
The transition was done in about six weeks, he said, and the Outlook team has spent the last few weeks making sure everything was completed correctly. So with the Hotmail upgrades now complete, Microsoft has moved on to introduce two new features: SMTP send to make it easier to send mail from different email addresses, and a deeper integration with SkyDrive, the latter of which will be gradually integrated into the email service.
Previously when Outlook users sent email using a different address, the recipient would see the email being sent "on behalf of" that other account. For example, the received email would read "JustinTyme@outlook.com on behalf of JustinTyme (JustinTyme@gmail.com). Sure, it's trivial, but apparently this has annoyed a number of Outlook users, especially those who'd rather not reveal their other non-Outlook address. That has been fixed, and should work for any email provider that offers POP or IMAP access.
Craddock goes on to talk about Outlook.com's direct SkyDrive integration in the compose experience. When sending an email, users can select files from SkyDrive and the Outlook.com client will automatically turn those into the right thumbnails with links that have the right permissions tied to people that receive the email.
"When you insert pictures from SkyDrive, you automatically get a beautiful photo mail," he said. "And it's easy to edit the message, and add or remove files and pictures right from the new message compose experience."
The new SkyDrive integration is rolling out now, and will be available worldwide in the coming weeks, he said. For more information about the upgrade from Hotmail, head here.