This morning, as part of the announcement of Outlook.com, “the engineers and product managers from Microsoft behind the new Outlook.com email service” took to Reddit for an “Ask Us Anything”, and answered a number of questions about the new service. While there are lots of gems here, it’s a bit daunting to go through all 800+ comments, so we’ve been scanning the thread and pulling out some of the best info. Somewhat randomly, here’s a sampling of the session (you can read all of “OutlookonReddit”’s answers here):
Under consideration / stay tuned:
Stay tuned for IMAP
GTalk on Outlook.com? maybe
Drag-n-Drop attachments as part of expanded HTML5 usage
Looking into fixing the 16 character password limit
Options / settings cleanup is “on the agenda”
Developer platform: stay tuned
Working on enabling IPv6, like Bing has
You can rename, but not merge accounts
Connecting to Facebook takes you to Windows Live to avoid “pre-revealing” the service, hope to fix soon Outlook.com features coming to Windows 8 Outlook app
A workaround for renaming your account back to its original name
The 270 day login requirement is still active
…and Hotmail Plus is still around
Calendar Metro is “on the way”
Marketing will be for Outlook.com only – “Hotmail is 16 years old…it’s time for something new”
An explanation of the technology behind
Our web front-ends are C# running on ASP.NET and IIS. The front-end is JS, HTML, and CSS using jQuery and jsViews. We use both ajax and server-rendered pages depending on which is more performant for the situation. Our back-end is a mixture of C# and C++ built on-top of the largest SQLServer installation in the world.
we reimagined our storage system much in the same way we did our user experience for Outlook.com. our storage technology was upgraded recently to support this launch. in doing so, we moved away from relying on hardware raid replication (software controlled replication now), leveraged solid state storage for hot content, and put in new reliability additions to our software. we do store blobs on top of NTFS and strip out pertinent meta-data for quick retrieval of your information and store that on our SSDs in SQL Server.
we have some details on our architectural changes here, if you’d like to read further (although we’ve made improvements since this post): http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/09/22/a-petabyte-per-week.aspx
As a company we’ve been simplifying our approach for individuals. You’ve seen it with the “metro-style” design. You’ve seen it with SkyDrive. We’re taking the same approach with mail – we want to have a brand that means mail from Microsoft. Outlook means that today for many people, and is in general a very strong brand.
We’re still digging through the comments, and may do a “round two”, but lots of good info so far!