Monday, January 27, 2014

Microsoft - Part 1

I have been working with Microsoft Tools and Technologies for 5+ years now. They have very impressive and diversified set of products. Few example include Microsoft office, SharePoint, Windows OS, SQL Servere, Skype and Xbox. In my current company we are using IBM Lotus Notes as our email exchange server application. Soon we will be moving to Microsoft Outlook,  since IBM will stop supporting Lotus Notes in the near future. This news intrigued me to go and explore the Personal Email service provided by Microsoft Outlook.

Much to my surprise, I was able to get a User ID as Though happy, it made me wonder the number of people who have an outlook account! Microsoft must be already aware of this and working on making their Product more unique. TO learn more about how they are doing this I me explored the Outlook Website.  The key differences that were appealing are - Outlook Doesn't serve targeted ads based on email contents,  Outlook offers Virtually unlimited storage (free) and Outlooks can Connect to Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn. With these selling points of having an outlook account I created a user id and logged into the MS Outlook.

The UI looks very similar or close to the look and feel of Facebook page.I browsed across other Microsoft product webpages and found the UI / Product Branding to be inconsistent. Microsoft can work on having a consistent brand across its products. This will  not only boost the customer experience but also add to new customers for different products.

To write a new email the  user needs to "move" to a new page and when he/she does that we see there is a lot of space that is either unused or poorly used. Since the primary goal of the email account is to communicate the outlook product should be designed to implicitly offer this feature rather than prompting the user for multiple actions to get to this.

Here is a list of proposed features that can be added to Personal Email Accounts -

1. Attaching one email in another
2. Ability to open multiple panels to read / compose multiple emails in the same instance
3. Attaching the chat conversation into an email  for forwarding purposes
4. Functionality to see who has read the emails, if it was sent to many users / groups
5. Creating Polls / Group discussions based emails
6. When I download  files attached to the email, it should open in the same page as a panel ( Similar to Gmail) but it should open just as a continuation to the email

There are strong business cases and feedback which I have received from other people who would want these features to be added to their personal email account. The very fact that some of these features are already offered by some providers shows the they are used by many. Something MS can think off to differentiate themselves in the future.


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