Email

On the Lookout for Deliverability Changes as Hotmail becomes Outlook.com

The online masses were first introduced to the wonders of webmail in the mid-90s, and one of the pioneers in that space was a service dubbed HoTMaiL, which launched to the general public in 1996. Their moniker’s odd use of letter case called out the technology that powered the service: HTML. From that point on, the market and landscape for webmail has immensely proliferated and evolved. (Microsoft eventually acquired HoTMaiL in 1997.)

Out with the old, in with the new. In July 2012, Microsoft launched a preview of Outlook.com, their new email service that’s the planned successor to Hotmail. Outlook.com modernizes the webmail experience and caters to the expanded scope of how consumers use their “cloud-based” mailboxes. All Hotmail users will eventually be upgraded to the Outlook.com experience, which features social-media integration, built-in productivity apps, organizational tools, in-message multimedia support, and a host of other UI and backend optimizations. (You can see Microsoft’s feature comparison of Outlook.com, Hotmail, and Gmail here.)

Since we live and breathe deliverability here, however, the big question is what impact the new service may have in the delivery of legitimate commercial messages. That is, does Outlook.com’s anti-spam technology vary from that employed by Hotmail or Live.com?

From publicly available information as well as what we’ve observed at ExactTarget, Outlook.com leverages the same anti-spam defenses that Hotmail and Live.com do. And that makes sense: there would be little point in starting from scratch when it comes to the fight against spam, since the arsenal of anti-spam data, filters, algorithms, and systems that Hotmail has collected and developed over the years is undoubtedly robust and flexible enough for the Outlook.com platform to rely on and build upon.

Of course, that's not to say that there weren’t any changes in Outlook.com’s anti-spam backend at all. As anti-spam technology is an ever-evolving science, there are certainly incremental changes being rolled out--but the core technologies behind the blocking, deferring, and filtering of messages appear to remain essentially the same.

Have you noticed new deliverability challenges when sending to Outlook.com addresses? If so, let us now via the Comments section. We’d love to hear your take. 

Looking for more practical advice to improve your email program? Check out 5 Proven Email Practices to Drive Revenue.

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