Reddit AMA featuring Microsoft Outlook.com team tackles NSA, IMAP, Gmail

Microsoft messaging team uses Reddit Q&A session to announce IMAP support

Microsoft's Outlook.com engineers and product managers, a little more than a year since the revamped messaging service launched, took to Reddit Thursday to field questions on topics that ranged from the controversial (NSA email snooping) to the technical (IMAP support).

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Reddit Ask Me Anything sessions have become increasingly popular forums for techies, celebrities and others to interact with the masses in public. The Outlook.com’s AMA generated around close to 1,000 comments over a 3-hour span running past 2pm EST.

One hot topic: Will the Outlook.com team let the National Security Agency pry into users’ emails? The team responded that ”Outlook.com provides customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so.” Microsoft received 75K-plus requests for data from law enforcement  involving 137,424 accounts, though those responding to Redditors said only about 2% of requests resulting in actual customer content being supplied.

[REDDIT AMA: Father of Ethernet Bob Metcalfe]

On the subject of support for remote mailbox protocol IMAP, which a questioner pointed out is Outlook.com’s major missing piece when compared to Gmail, Yahoo Mail and others, the Microsoft team came prepared with welcome news: “I’m excited to announce that starting right now we DO support IMAP, and we wanted you folks to be the first to know.” More here in a fresh blog post from Microsoft’s Steve Kafka, who was the person answering Redditors on this topic. 

A fair amount of Gmail vs. Outlook.com comments made their way into the AMA string, with some wondering why they should really switch from Gmail to Outlook.com (one commenter suggested that switching from Outlook.com to Gmail would be a good idea: “if you want to get bothered about Google+ about 10 billion times a week.”

Continuing on the lighter side, one person asked: “Why should I adopt this 'email' when a raven can adequately carry a message to the other side of the Seven Kingdoms within a week?” Microsoft’s response: “You don't have to worry about arrows with email.”

Banter on the AMA got a little NSFW as well, when once person asked why Microsoft got rid of the ability to switch between multiple Outlook.com accounts, say to support one for work purposes and another for unsavory personal endeavors. Microsoft’s response: It was a security issue that couldn’t be fixed.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +. 

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