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Microsoft Bolsters Mobile E-Mail Efforts with Acompli Buy

Microsoft on Monday acquired Acompli, a San Francisco-based startup that develops iOS and Android applications combining e-mail, calendar, contacts and search capabilities.

Microsoft did not disclose what it paid to buy Acompli, although a Re/code article stated the price was rumored to be more than $200 million. The acquisition was foreshadowed late last week, after Microsoft issued a test post of the announcement; though the post was blank, its URL suggested that Microsoft was buying the company, as noted by The Wall Street Journal.

Acompli's mobile device apps are designed to be compatible with Microsoft Exchange, Google's Gmail service and various cloud-based storage services. Its technology and expertise would contribute to Microsoft's current mobile e-mail efforts, as carried out by the Microsoft Outlook team, according to Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365.

"It will expedite our work to deliver the full power of Office to mobile devices," Jha said in an announcement

Acompli has been around for only 18 months before being acquired by Microsoft. The company focused on improving the mobile e-mail experience for end users while producing apps that would be "trusted by IT," according to Javier Soltero, Acompli's co-founder and CEO, in a blog post about the acquisition.

Microsoft has faced some problems in bringing its Outlook desktop app to Apple's iPad, Soltero had explained back in an April blog post. Microsoft released its Office for iPad productivity suite but without the traditionally bundled Outlook e-mail solution. While Microsoft also has a browser-based version called "Outlook Web App" as an alternative solution for iPad users, that app was "only useful for those of us running Office 365," Soltero wrote. He described the Outlook Web App as "a slow-loading web app wrapped in native chrome."

The Outlook Web App runs with premises-based Exchange Server editions from Exchange Server 2007 on up. Microsoft released Outlook Web Apps for iPads and iPhones last year, although they were just for Office 365 subscribers and the apps do not work with Exchange Server 2013 deployments. However, Microsoft promised that Exchange 2013 support would come at a future, unspecified date. Microsoft's Office for iPad productivity suite, including Excel, PowerPoint and Word, was released in late March.

Microsoft also released a test version of its Outlook Web App for Android devices back in June, but it also lacks some basics, such as support for on-premises Exchange servers. The company's Office Apps for Android tablets, including Excel, Word and PowerPoint, were released last month in preview form.

Acompli's e-mail applications support a number of e-mail solutions, including "Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Google Apps, Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, Outlook.com, Hotmail and Live, as well as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive," according to the company's Web site.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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