Outcry forces reprieve for Outlook Express

Microsoft has backed down on plans to abandon development on its email client, because 'the situation has changed'

Just days after announcing that it planned to halt development on the Outlook Express email client, Microsoft has been forced to change its position following internal confusion and an outcry from customers.

As ZDNet Australia reported earlier this week, Microsoft had planned to stop product development on Outlook Express, which forms part of the Internet Explorer code bundled with consumer versions of Windows. "The technology doesn't go away, but no new work is being done," Office product manager Dan Leach said.

Under that vision, consumers would have been directed towards the company's MSN software, while businesses would be encouraged to purchase Office, which includes the full Outlook client.

However, Leach has now stepped away from his original comments, claiming that while Microsoft had originally planned to halt new work on Outlook Express, the situation has since changed.

"I sat down with the Windows team today, and they tell me my comments were inaccurate," Leach said Friday. "Outlook Express was in sustain engineering, but customers asked for continued improvement, and we are doing that. Microsoft will continue its innovation around the email experience in Windows."

Leach blamed communication problems for the confusion. "The Outlook Express team has been in the process of making this change known inside Microsoft," he said. "They just hadn't reached me before I left for Asia."

The lack of internal communication underlines the growing challenge faced by Microsoft as it attempts to co-ordinate software development activities over an increasingly diverse range of markets.

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