Someone at Microsoft isn't paying attention. The Outlook Live subscription service has apparently gone AWOL and no one seems to be able to get a straight answer as to what the story is.
For those of you not familar with the service, Outlook Live was announced last year and provided subscribers with a copy of Outlook 2003 wired up to work with what was essentially an MSN Hotmail Premium account. The offer, which cost just under $50.00 per year, was that you'd always have the latest version of Outlook and the ability to access your mail and other personal information in Outlook on your PC and via the web.
Great idea right? The hybrid offline/online solution to Software as a Service (SaaS) is an idea many people, myself included, have been saying is the next evolutionary step in how we work. Heck, even some guy named Ray thinks that's the right strategy. I hear he landed a job at a software company not too long ago.
Well, Outlook Live has vanished. Broken links are scattered throughout Microsoft's web sites. They all lead to a spectacularly unhelpful 404-Page Not Found. Subscribers like David Brunelle are not happy. Can't say I blame them.
Time for a wake-up call to someone in Redmond. This is not the way to get ready for the launch of the next version of Outlook.
UPDATE: Thanks to Mary Jo Foley, it appears that there is a hotfix available that cures a functionality problem related to the installation of Internet Explorer 7. This doesn't answer my question about what has become of MooL but it may help current subscribers who are having authentications issues in Outlook 2007 B2TR when connecting to a HotMail Premium account.
UPDATE 2: I received word from the Waggener Edstrom team that manages communications for Microsoft Office Live confirming that MooL is no longer available. The exact statement was:
As of August 31 Microsoft no longer offered MooL to new customers. We expect the Outlook connectivity services that MooL offers will be offered through other offerings in Microsoft Office Live and Windows Live in the future.
Well there you have it. I do hope something similar is offered for Outlook 2007. MooL was a cost-effective way to acquire the local benefits of using Outlook synchronized with the web.