Four out of five people prefer Outlook.com over Gmail, according to Microsoft's latest round of testing in which the company hired a research firm to recruit hundreds of Gmail users. The reasons given varied from email and spam management to photo and document sharing, as well as design and layout.
In August, Outlook.com surpassed ten million users, and today Microsoft said that its new email service now has more than 25 million active users. Coupled in with that announcement was another announcement – that Outlook.com is available to Android users in the Google Play store.
Outlook.com received mostly positive reviews from the industry when it launched earlier this year, with PCMag naming it the top Web app of 2012 and others saying it is the best thing to happen to email in years. However, its mobile counterpart is a completely different story.
The Outlook.com Android app has a rating of two stars in the Google Play store and upon installation it is easy to see why users are reacting so negatively towards it. The app designers, Microsoft + SEVEN, have disregarded the Google recommended holo and metro UI style guidelines and opted for something simpler. The UI is dated and looks identical to the old Hotmail app. In fact, it just may be the old Hotmail app, but rebranded.
Functions seem to be quite limited. Multiple accounts are not supported and the ability to flag emails is non-existent. Android on its own can sync Microsoft Outlook and Live contacts, as well as calendars and emails, without returning a frequent “Internal Error 100” message like the Outlook.com app so often does.
Microsoft's other Android apps, SkyDrive and SmartGlass,received high accolades on their respective launch dates. Both of those apps showcase innovative technology wrapped in a stunning, stable Android design. The attention given by the company's mobile development team on the Outlook.com app in particular just seems quite lazy and forgettable.
As of this writing, the Google Play store holds nearly 200 user reviews on the Outlook.com app with only a handful of users rating it three stars or higher. Most of the problems described above can be fixed in a short amount of time by Microsoft's mobile team who can then turn around and release a newly updated version of the app, but one has to wonder if users will return to it once the bitter taste of the launch subsides.