Microsoft’s strategy for updating Hotmail

Yesterday whilst being shown the new, soon to be released features of Hotmail I was told about Microsoft’s strategy for updating the webmail service. The strategy previously has been to release updates in waves however that view has changed slightly as Microsoft said “releasing in waves is good but releasing innovation constantly is better”.

This explains why over the last year there has been a lot of small updates to Hotmail but why there is also this much larger update coming to the service over the next few weeks. Some of the smaller updates have been additional Facebook integration and the aliases feature. Microsoft said that by releasing the smaller updates and features its like “a little bit of innovation every week”.

As part of this plan Microsoft is keen to focus on new features over new designs. They are more interested in making sure that the user gets the emails they want as seamlessly as possible. Microsoft also want create new features to allow the user to organise their inbox to their own specification rather than spending time working on new icon designs for Hotmail. This view can be seen in the new categories feature and enhancing sweeping functionality which means that “Hotmail gives 97 out of 100 emails that the user cares about” rather than lots of spam and greymail. This is something Microsoft is proud about and was keen to point out that no other webmail service is focusing on this aspect as much as Microsoft is.

This plan seems to make a lot of sense and its certainly better to have smaller more frequent updates rather than one massive annual update. The same plan also seems to be applicable to SkyDrive too as over the past year they have released several small and only one large update. However, it would appear that Essentials does not conform to this strategy, which is a great shame.

I shall be publishing a post tomorrow about my question and answer session with Hotmail.