On July 31st Microsoft started rolling out Outlook.com, their new Windows 8 themed web based email service slated to replace msn.com, hotmail.com, and live.com email accounts. In their own words, they promise to:
Microsoft today introduced Outlook.com, a new personal email service that reimagines the way that people use email – from a cleaner look, to fewer and less obtrusive ads, to new connections to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
As seen in some articles such as this one, many users have been rather frustrated with Microsoft’s roll-out of this new service. The concerns seem to range from auto-upgrade without asking for permission, to loss of emails.
While these are serious concerns, I have been experiencing incredibly flaky service with the new system, which to me, points to stability issues. I frequently have to refresh my web page about 5 times until I can view my emails and even then, I can only view one or two emails before I am booted out due to a system error, my Facebook and twitter feeds don’t show up, my read emails still show up as unread, my deleted emails magically resurface, and much more!
And yes, I am a good netizen and report these problems to Microsoft via the provided link. But, to my dismay and no avail, these issues seem to be getting more and more prevalent. Having been through many service upgrades from companies such as Google, Rhapsody, etc… I can easily call this upgrade as an example of what not to do.
If you promise a better experience for your customers ensure you are delivering on that promise. Don’t over extend your reach and provision more accounts than you have servers for, as these types of issues cause serious, long lasting, negative impressions on your customers.
I have been with hotmail.com since my middle school days with thousands of emails saved and I no longer trust in Microsoft’s service. I’ve personally created an application to back-up all of my emails from Outlook.com to ensure that if the day comes when all of my emails are wiped from their servers, I still have a copy safe on my machine.
To the cloud we go, relinquishing our control, hoping companies don’t betray out trust.
Update (9/6/2012): Outlook.com is still experiencing issues