More on the free Outlook Connector beta and other e-mail FAQs

As of September 27, 2004, all new Windows Live Hotmail accounts, including Office Live and Custom Domains don’t have HTTP [WebDAV] support through Outlook and Outlook Express.  In fact, for those users who haven’t upgraded to Windows Vista, the new version of Outlook Express [Windows Mail] doesn’t even have HTTP support for premium or old accounts.  It’s quite confusing, but thankfully Windows Live Mail is in beta and should relieve some of that confusion.

For business users and those who still prefer Outlook, Outlook Connector is now free for all Windows Live Hotmail accounts.  People ask me why they would want connector if they already have HTTP accounts and there are a few reasons:

  1. The beta version now also synchronizes with more folders, including Drafts.  In fact, the new folder list will include: Deleted Items, Drafts, Inbox, Junk E-mail, Outbox, Sent Items, [and if using 2007] Search Folders.  WebDAV only synchronizes Deleted Items, Inbox, Junk E-mail, and Sent Items.
  2. Contacts!  Although Outlook Express supported synchronization through Windows Address Book, that is now gone in Vista.  Note–For those who only want to export in contacts in a spreadsheet without using Outlook can go through Windows Live Hotmail.
  3. Only for Premium accounts: Calendar.  Unfortunately Microsoft has perhaps added more confusion by withdrawing this feature from free accounts, but on the other hand they still have to give a reason for Premium accounts to pay.  Thankfully the majority of features with Outlook Connector are free, but think of it this way: there’s Outlook Connector Standard and Outlook Connector Premium.  The calendar feature is also quite nice, it will even download shared calendars from Windows Live Calendar.  There is also a free Office Online Internet Calendar Publishing Service for free accounts.

If Calendar sync is needed, an MSN Premium, Hotmail Plus, or a paid Office Live subscription would be required.  Interestingly enough, Outlook Live [MOOL] disappeared months ago, apparently after the decision to make Outlook Connector free.  MOOL had the promise of giving a 1-year lease on Outlook, with any updates to Outlook included in the subscription [i.e. from 2003 to 2007].

Users who try to add a free account should be prompted to upgrade to the beta.  In addition, the new Outlook Connector is listed as a supplement attached to the license of Outlook, which seems to indicate that all support would go through Office.

As Chris said, there is more information and screenshots on the Office Online site, however the shots don’t have the Outlook Connector menu or toolbar.  You would think Microsoft would not want to add to the confusion?  For a demo of the connector, see the MOOL online demo [a lot of the features are the same].  If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!