Q&A with Microsoft’s Jason Henderson & David Dennis

David Dennis is the Principal Program Manager Lead for Outlook.com and Jason Henderson is the Group Program Manager for Microsoft Exchange.  David spoke last year at Inbox Love and has had a busy year with the launch of Outlook.com.  Jason is presenting this year.  We’re reaching out to several folks on the stage to get their perspective on the email ecosystem, how their predictions for the future.

1. What are you both most excited about with email these days?
David: For Outlook.com the big news for us is that we’re seeing significant growth once again relative to what we had been seeing with Hotmail. Web usage is down a little, but device usage is skyrocketing. This is exactly as we’d expected, and we’re pleased with the protocol investments we’ve made to enable that, most namely our support for Exchange ActiveSync. The big news most recently has been our support for IMAP with OAUTH and our new partnerships. We’re hoping that Inbox Love helps get more partners on board to integrate with us in cool ways.

Jason: For Exchange I am really excited about the momentum, growth, and opportunity we are seeing with Exchange Online and Office 365. The pent up demand for a business-class cloud communication and collaboration suite really is huge. We are seeing amazing excitement and uptake across small, medium, and even large enterprises that many people expected to lag.

I love the agility and speed that our focus on cloud has given us. We are now able to innovate and deliver new features to our Office 365 customers at a very fast pace. A great example is the enhancements that we made in our apps for Outlook platform as a result of partner feedback. We released the platform as part of Exchange 2013 RTM in November 2012. Talking with partners in early February we realized that access to additional message properties via Exchange Web Services would unblock some great scenarios; so we enabled the ability to access attachments and full message properties in our March release to the service. Very, very cool!

2. Jason, I see you’ll be speaking at our event about Apps for Outlook,  any quick preview you can share about that session?
Jason: I’ll be talking about the new apps for Office platform we just released that enables developers to write apps in HTML5 that run across Office, including Outlook, Outlook Web App(OWA), and our OWA for O365 iPhone/iPad app. The app platform lets you mash up your web services with mail and calendar items. It enables you to write once, run across Desktop, Web, and Mobile and deliver your content/services to where the users are spending their time (in their mail client). Lastly I’ll be talking about some exciting new developments coming to the Office Store that is built in to Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, and Exchange and lets users and administrators find and easily install apps.

3. Anyone you’re looking to connect with at Inbox Love?
David: For Outlook.com, we’re always interested in speaking with people and companies doing innovative things with email. Our usage and activity data has told us that email is alive and well. Usage patterns and inbox composition continue to evolve, and every year at Inbox Love we’re amazed at the interesting things people are doing to take advantage of these trends. We’re always pushing the envelope ourselves, but the vibrancy of the ecosystem is great. This year, the Outlook.com team is looking to get as many great partners to integrate with us via IMAP so that we can bring new innovations to our shared customer base.

Jason: Same here. We’re super-excited to talk to companies that are passionate about integrating with Outlook and Exchange Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks. Users spend 80% of their day in Outlook and depend on it get their job done, but Outlook becomes even more powerful and has even more value to users when 3rd parties integrate their domain expertise and awesome experiences into Outlook and Exchange.

4. Any big news at Microsoft that we should know about?
David: Outlook.com IMAP with OAUTH, baby!
Jason: Apps for Outlook, baby! 🙂

5. What will email look like in 2023?
David & Jason: Well, email will still be around for sure. It will have evolved, but it’ll still be here, and it’ll still be critical for all of us. Email has been around for 30 years or so. Every year, it’s become more important for our personal and professional lives. Usage continues to grow and so does the overall user base across the industry. That said, other modes of digital communication have become part of the mix and that’s made the nature of what’s in your inbox change. It’s not a zero sum game, though. Just because you may now use SMS, chat in Skype, messaging on a social network, document sharing in SkyDrive, discussions in Yammer or any of a host of other communication apps or methods, doesn’t mean email usage is declining. Certain types of communication may be happening less in email, but the volume of other types of messages, like valuable commercial transactions for instance, is skyrocketing.

Regardless of how the mix of message types evolves, users will need better and better solutions to help them unlock information from their inboxes and to communicate quickly and securely in a way that respects their privacy and their work styles.

We think we are going to see e-mail and business communications change much more in the next ten years than they have in the past ten. We are seeing social and consumer trends influencing e-mail, and we think that will continue. We think we will continue to see the trends of the communications stream becoming increasingly multi-modal, multi-media, and increasingly integrated. It is a super exciting time to be innovating in this space.

A big thank you to David Dennis and Jason Henderson from Microsoft for their perspective!  We’ll be back here next week with more insights from our speakers & sponsors.

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