Microsoft-hosted e-mail for educational users now named 'Outlook Live'

Exchange Labs -- a Microsoft-hosted e-mail service for users at colleges and universities -- has a new name: "Outlook Live."
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Exchange Labs -- a Microsoft-hosted e-mail service for users at colleges and universities -- has a new name: "Outlook Live."

The e-mail service is used by more than 3.5 million Microsoft Live@edu users in educational institutions around the globe, the company said.

The renamed Outlook Live service is getting a few new features along with the name change, according to Microsoft's February 12 announcement, including:

  • Multibrowser support: Users now get a choice of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari
  • Enhanced conversation view: Multiple e-mails can be combined into a single "conversation" to reduce inbox clutter
  • Integrated instant messaging and presence: A single interface for Windows Live Messenger and Microsoft Office Communicator messages
  • Addition of factulty and staff members to the existing eligible user base of students and alumni

Here's what I'm still wondering: Microsoft is set to unveil a new hosted e-mail service for mobile users next week -- codenamed "Skyline" -- that Neowin (and I) have both speculated is going to be under the "Outlook Live" brand. Skyline, from what my sources have said, is a service aimed at small-business users that will allow them to have personal and work mail, contacts and calendar pushed to their mobile phones.

I asked Microsoft whether Skyline also will be put under the Outlook Live brand. A spokesperson sent the following (non)response:

"We have not announced anything by that name (Skyline). We can confirm that Microsoft Exchange Labs, which currently delivers rich e-mail functionality as a service to 3.5 million Live@edu users, will be renamed Outlook Live and we are excited about the new features and benefits this brings to our users."

Guess we'll have to wait until the World Mobile Congress next week to see how Microsoft ends up branding Skyline....

Update (February 13): Not sure why Microsoft's press release from yesterday didn't make this clear, but it seems with Exchange 14, all users are going to have a choice of interfaces: Outlook Live or Outlook Web Access (OWA). From a post on the Microsoft "You Had Me at EHLO" Exchange team blog:

"Openness has always been part of Exchange's DNA, which you can see from how we license Exchange ActiveSync to partners and competitors alike, in the variety of mobile phones we support, from the iPhone to Nokia phones to Windows Mobile, in our support for web services, and now in the browsers we support."

So still no answer as to how Outlook Live relates to Skyline, but a little more clarity on how Outlook Live fits into the bigger picture....

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