Microsoft No Longer Developing Outlook Express
Thursday August 14th, 2003
Several people wrote in to tell us that Microsoft is not doing any new development work on Outlook Express, the company's free mail and newsgroups client, which is bundled with both Internet Explorer and Windows. The emphasis for home users will now be placed on Hotmail and MSN, while corporations will be reminded that they should have been using Outlook all along. Many MozillaZine readers have noted the opportunity that this presents for Mozilla Thunderbird, the Mozilla project's standalone mail and newsgroups program. While the first milestone of Thunderbird has only recently been released, the application is based on the mature codebase of the Mozilla Application Suite's Mail & Newsgroups component. Microsoft's cancellation of further Outlook Express development follows on from the company's announcement that it will offer no further upgrades to the standalone Windows version of Internet Explorer and its decision to end development of IE for Mac OS X.
Update: J. A. Prufrock wrote in to tell us that Microsoft is now saying Outlook Express will continue to be developed after all. Microsoft's about-turn in its public statements is nothing new: shortly after the news broke that there would be no further standalone versions of IE for Windows, the company stressed that it was in fact too early to discuss its long-term plans for the browser.
#59 Re: Re: killing
Saturday August 16th, 2003 10:33 AM
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"Ah, being a fellow brit I thought microsoft had given up on internet access years ago, after about 4 tries are relaunching their service."
MSN pulled out of several markets, including the UK, after the whole online-service-to-rival-AOL-and-CompuServe-and-maybe-even-replace-the-Internet thing failed. However, they stuck around as a largely regular ISP in places like the US. Meanwhile, Microsoft concentrated on developing MSN.com into a portal and started branding everything in site (Hotmail etc.) with the MSN name. Over the last couple of years, Microsoft have been strongly promoting MSN Internet Access again (hence MSN Explorer etc.), particularly focussing on converting AOL users (in the US, AOL is the nuymber one ISP, MSN is number two). With the launch of MSN 8, you can no subscribe to them in the UK again but they don't provide Internet access.
"I think Compuserve has more users than AOL when they finally quit."
I think CompuServe has less users than MSN. CompuServe is still around in both its traditional form (CompuServe Classic - no longer taking new members) and its AOL lite form (CompuServe 2000 - but this is no longer available in many places, including the UK). They haven't updated the Classic software for years and the last CompuServe 2000 revision - CompuServe 7, which uses Gecko - was probably the last. So essentially AOL killed CompuServe, which is a shame as they really are a part of computing history, dating back to 1969 or something. (I should really be fair to AOL here: America Online was considered quite innovative when it first launched in 1989. It was originally only available to Mac and Apple II users and was just one of the online services offered by Quantum Computer Services, which changed its named to America Online in 1991. Contrary to popular belief, Quantum Computer Services was not founded by Steve Case.)
"I used to think of MSN Explorer as a newbie version of IE, but what I've read about it recently didn't fit that description (like having to subscribe to it)."
It is aimed at ex-AOLers (or being fairer, ordinary consumers who don't care about the underlying technology) and most subscribers use AOL for their ISP needs as well. As for MSN as a whole, I think Microsoft's eventual aim is for it to be the consumer services division of Microsoft - where you'll go for your Internet, email, messenging and calendaring needs etc.
"If MSN are in the internet access market, then I am surprised AOL agreeds to stop developing Mozilla. OK, they might have rights to internet explorer for the next 5 years or so, but what then?"
Seven actually but you're right. AOL haven't really thought this through. Steve Case and others realised as early as the mid-nineties that Microsoft is their real rival but it seems that the current management aren't taking the long-term view. I think, at some point, they will regret relying on Microsoft for their browsing (and possibly media) technologies and will wish they still had Gecko (of course, there will be nothing but pride preventing them from using it).