Today Microsoft announced that it has added IMAP support to its Outlook.com webmail product. Outlook.com has over 400 million active users according to Microsoft, making it not only one of the most popular webmail services around.
Why IMAP? Demand, likely, and the fact that Microsoft wants developers to take a keener interest in its little email program. In a blog post announcing the move, Microsoft noted that “some devices and apps that haven’t made the upgrade to [Exchange Active Sync]” and that “IMAP is widely supported on feature phones and other email clients such as those on a Mac.” So, it built it in.
Outlook.com is a viable Gmail alternative, though one that I fault for lacking a single feature (Priority Inbox, which I cannot live without), but it’s still worth noting that Microsoft managed to build a product that people tend to honestly dig. That’s in contrast to the Hotmail dog days.
Outlook.com also supports OAuth, which allows for simple integration into other apps. It isn’t clear how many applications and things of that sort are currently integrated with Outlook.com, though the potential could be sizable given its massive user base.
Outlook.com did fine on its own — 1 million users in its first day of life, and so forth — but it was when Microsoft folded the entire Hotmail user base into its roles that it became titanic in size.
Finally, a note on something social. I first heard that IMAP support was coming to Outlook.com the same way as a great number of other folks today, on Reddit. The Outlook.com team held another Reddit question session today (an “AMA” in nerd parlance) that was, in fact, great. Answering questions honestly is always refreshing. If you want a look at how to Reddit properly, this is it.
Top Image Credit: Bogdan Suditu