The New Outlook.com and the Microsoft Account PaymentHub

Outlook.com Logo

While check­ing my RSS feeds for the night, I ran across this arti­cle describ­ing the new Outlook.com.  As an avid user of “Live for Domains”, I was inter­est­ed to see where Microsoft was going after announc­ing the renam­ing of the “Win­dows Live” moniker back in May.

Outlook.com

It turns out, the UI is refresh­ing and seems to be a new front-end for what was Hot­mail and Live Mail.  It is a refresh­ing, min­i­mal­is­tic UI with a lot of white space.   Users of the pre­view releas­es of Win­dows 8 will notice many UI and usabil­i­ty sim­i­lar­i­ties.  I was expect­ing to get a ‘pre­view like’ expe­ri­ence but that has not been the case.  I have sev­er­al domains I use and have linked togeth­er.  The authen­ti­ca­tion worked like a charm and I was able to jump around my three dif­fer­ent accounts in Outlook.com with­out it revert­ing to the old Hot­mail inter­face (send-as work­ing as well).

 

Outlook.com - Service Ribbon

Then I went to check out the Contacts/People inter­face and the Cal­en­dar.  The Cal­en­dar nev­er loaded in Chrome so I had to revert to IE.  The Contacts/People inter­face had the oppo­site prob­lem; it loads in Chrome just fine but not IE 10.  The Contacts/People inter­face match­es the new UI but the Cal­en­dar has yet to be upgrad­ed.  I

‘m sure MS will sort out these issues fair­ly quick­ly as they have already sur­passed 1 mil­lion usersin the new UI.Try it now.  All it takes is a vis­it to Outlook.com.

Microsoft Account and PaymentHub

This is just spec­u­la­tion but I can see this real­ly fit­ting into sub­scrip­tion ser­vices for Microsoft Office, Xbox games, addi­tion­al e-mail and Sky­Drive stor­age, advanced fea­tures in future releas­es of WebApps and more.Some peo­ple have been report­ing run­ning in the new “Microsoft Account” when log­ging in but this has­n’t been my expe­ri­ence.  How­ev­er, after the switch, I went into the Outlook.com options/settings and saw a new billing tab.  I also noticed I was now at https://account.live.com/.  The link redi­rect­ed to https://commerce.microsoft.com/PaymentHub/.  It appears this will han­dle sub­scrip­tions down the road and also func­tion on a point sys­tem sim­i­lar to Xbox Live and Bing Rewards.  It also iden­ti­fies my account as a ‘US - Per­son­al Account’ lead­ing me to believe they may be using the same billing sys­tem used with the pre­view release of Office365.

Screenshots

What’s Next

With the release of Win­dows 8, Serv­er 2012, Exchange 2013, Sur­face Tablets, Office365 Next, Share­point 2013, Office 2013, advance­ments w/ Azure IaaS and more, it is an excit­ing time for Microsoft.

 

Office 365 Deployment Readiness Tool Beta Released

Office365 Migration Readiness Tool
Office365 Migra­tion Readi­ness Tool

On Fri­day (May 6th), Microsoft released the Enter­prise Beta Readi­ness Tool for Office365. As the name implies, this tool is meant to do a quick readi­ness check on your envi­ron­ment.  Upon exe­cu­tion, it will auto­mat­i­cal­ly extract the files to C:office365reskit and launch the app with­in IE. If you sys­tem has IE locked down, this may be prob­lem­at­ic or at least require the acknowl­edge­ment of a few warn­ings. As it’s run­ning, it col­lects infor­ma­tion (be patient) from your orga­ni­za­tion’s net­work into its temp direc­to­ry (c:office365reskittmp). The files with­in this direc­to­ry are plain text and offer an inter­est­ing look into the envi­ron­ment. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, once the test com­pletes, the util­i­ty ana­lyzes and con­sol­i­dates these temp files and deletes the orig­i­nat­ing files, leav­ing a tech­ni­cal per­son with much to be desired.

 

The report is long and not filled with a whole lot of tech­ni­cal details. It gives basic infor­ma­tion about your orga­ni­za­tion like sip domains, AD func­tion­al­i­ty lev­els, Exchange org, object counts and more. It then com­pares that to known require­ments to mea­sure your readi­ness to migrate to Office365 and gives a pass/fail grade in each cat­e­go­ry. For an orga­ni­za­tion look­ing at Office365, this info will give a good base to start a dis­cov­ery process towards Office365 readi­ness.

My over­all impres­sion is the tool is a bit rough around the edges but a use­ful for quick dis­cov­ery. The infor­ma­tion can even be help­ful for doing quick, lim­it­ed Active Direc­to­ry, Exchange and OCS/Lync dis­cov­ery (although there are bet­ter tools for this job). Microsoft is show­ings its com­mit­ment to what will like­ly become a pret­ty aggres­sive push to busi­ness migra­tion to their cloud offer­ings.