Will enhancing Outlook.com enable Microsoft to regain leadership in email?

by Sharon Lobo    Apr 18, 2013


Since it launched Outlook.com, Microsoft seems to be hell-bent on regaining its leadership position in the email services space, which it lost to Gmail sometime back. A couple of months ago, the tech giant announced it would spend at least $30 million to promote the email service across the US. This week, the company has announced a range of enhancements to Outlook.com, including two-step verification, sign-in by alias, and new international domains.

The two-step verification is a boon to those who are looking for ways to add additional security to their account given the rise in incidents of email accounts being compromised. The sign-in by alias features allows users to sign in with any alias that has been added to their account, while the new international domain enables users an @outlook address that is unique to their country.

Google on the other hand gradually continues to enhance its Gmail service, which has resulted in Gmail being the email service with the most number of active users today. While all the enhancements made to Outlook.com is a welcome change, will it manage to garner more users still seems debatable.

For starters, the number of people accessing emails via mobile grows rapidly, a majority of these users are always signed-in, so there wouldn’t be many takers for the two-step verification. The same goes with sign in with any alias feature which is irrelevant to such users. The country specific domain could generate some level of interest amongst users but then again users have always preferred the .com domain.

Microsoft seems to never get it right with email services. Firstly, it bought Hotmail.com for a whopping $400 mn, which it recently shut giving way to Outlook.com. Meantime, it had launched multiple domains such a live.com, msn.com, passport.com all of which garnered lukewarm response.

Whatever said, this time Microsoft seems to be working in the right direction by consolidating all its email services to Outlook.com. It recently launched an app for Android users, to woo users from this rival platform. And Microsoft also claims to have registered a sizeable number of Outlook.com users. But it still remains to see if it manages to snatch the crown from Gmail considering most users are mobile and that too on Android devices, which anyways enables your Gmail account when you activate the device with your Gmail ID.