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Leaked memo suggests Microsoft is prepping an instant messenger-style email client

A rumored update to its email app strips away much of what makes it email in the first place.

Microsoft leaked memo on Twitter email client instant messenger
Credit: flickr/ToddABishop

A document purported to be a Microsoft-confidential memo has popped up on Twitter that says the company is looking to revamp Outlook to make it almost like an instant messenger.

A screenshot of information on the mobile app, called Flow by Outlook for iPhone, was plastered on Twitter by a user named WalkingCat, who joked "well Microsoft, if it [sic] really confidential, don't put it on publicly accessible Internet, LOL."

See also: Microsoft clarifies its Windows confusion, sort of

The description says "Fast, fluid, natural conversations" with "No subject lines, salutations, or signatures." Flow is designed for "fast, light-weight conversations in real-time."

I question the need for two reasons: 1) I do that now on my iPhone. My biggest impediment is how quickly I can type on that small screen. 2) Isn't that what Skype is for?

According to the document, conversations start in Flow and their replies show up in Flow, not your entire inbox. But the thread will also be stored in the user’s Outlook account. So here I see the benefit of not having work or important conversations scattered between Outlook and Skype. Outlook is your mail client and everything should be in one place.

See also: Microsoft releases universal real-time translator for Skype

Personally, I don't see much value, but I'm a solo writer. I can get by with the iPhone mail client, clumsy as it may be. Perhaps Microsoft sees clear use case scenarios where Skype and Yammer, another IM client it acquired, don't fit.

And this would be an evolution of email to keep it viable. The demise of email is predicted almost as often as the demise of the mainframe. Even Mark Zuckerberg predicted email's death. Hasn't happened. For now, I'm just curious about its potential market.

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