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Microsoft Rebrands Acompli as Outlook App for iOS and Android

Less than two months after acquiring Acompli, Microsoft stamped the Outlook logo on the iOS and Android mobile e-mail app and loaded it into the Apple App Store and Google Play store on Thursday.

The quick move fulfills many partners' requests to have a full Outlook component in Office for iPhone, in the Office for iPad suite released last March, and in the more recently delivered Office for Android suite, which graduated out of preview stage on Thursday. Microsoft bought Acompli on Dec. 1 in a deal reported to be worth more than $200 million.

Previous users of the critically acclaimed Acompli app noted that the new Outlook app seemed identical. In less blunt terms, Microsoft officials acknowledged as much.

"For our Acompli users, Outlook will be a familiar experience, as we're developing the apps from this code base. You will see us continue to rapidly update the Outlook app, delivering on the familiar Outlook experience our customers know and love," said Julia White, general manager of the Office Product Management Team, in a blog post.

In a separate blog post, Javier Soltero, former Acompli CEO and current Microsoft general manager for Outlook, described the work since merging into Microsoft in primarily administrative terms. "Since the acquisition, we've been working hard on integrating our teams and development processes to ensure we're able to continue rapidly delivering new features and functionality to our customers," Soltero wrote. He described Thursday's release as "the first step in a greater journey to bring a true Outlook email experience to every mobile platform."

Soltero's blog also described the design principle that animated Acompli's founding -- the quick-hit nature of mobile e-mail usage. "We've learned that users spend an average of 24 seconds inside our app every time they open it -- and that happens dozens of times per day. Our goal has been to make those 24 seconds as productive as they can be," Soltero wrote.

The iOS version of mobile Outlook, which is a 22.5MB download and requires iOS 8.0 or higher, is a full release, while the Android version is a preview.

Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, is one of the partners whose customers have been clamoring for a great Outlook experience on the iPad.

"A lot of people ran in droves, as I suspected, to grab Office on the iPad. Then they were saying, 'Now, gosh darn it, where's Outlook?' Today you can say Outlook is there," Opal said. Next, he hopes to see Microsoft fully integrate mobility management for iOS and Android devices into the Office 365 tools, and after that, he'd like to see Microsoft start surprising the industry with next-generation features customers don't yet know they need.

Microsoft on Thursday claimed 80 million downloads of Office on iPhone and iPad and 250,000 downloads of the Office for Android tablet previews. Opal said all those free downloads are changing his customers' perceptions of Microsoft.

"They used to have to go get all this other stuff and cobble it together," Opal said. "By dropping the applications down, it's kind of softened a lot of people and warmed them back up toward Microsoft. They're saying, 'I'm not on their device, but I am having their experience.'"

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Posted by Scott Bekker on January 29, 2015 at 2:13 PM