Microsoft’s Outlook.com web mail app is clean, crisp and efficient. It is almost everything you’d want from a browser-based mail app.
It fails because there’s an advertising pane on the right hand of the screen. You can’t miss it.
Of course that’s the idea. Advertising is supposed to be in-your-face.
Advertisers won’t pay up unless their message catches your attention. And that means distracting.
It’s one thing for Microsoft to show advertising on its Outlook.com web mail to casual users. After all, the service is free. Microsoft needs Outlook.com to earn its keep.
It’s another thing entirely for Microsoft to show ads to people already paying for an annual Office 365 subscription. It amounts to double dipping.
Paying subscribers already contribute towards the software.
Sure, most Office 365 subscriptions include a copy of the Outlook 2016 desktop app. And, yes, that app does not include any distracting advertising.
Outlook versus itself
But Outlook 2016 is a clunky, heavy-duty application. It gobbles resources and memory. The web version provides all the key functionality in a tighter, simpler, lightweight package.
It would be nice to use it without distraction. It would be more productive to use it without distraction.
Ruining the app this way is dumb. Outlook.com with competes with Gmail and Apple iCloud Mail. Each has its own set of features, benefits and pitfalls. Let’s put that aside and focus on the deliberate advertising distraction.
You can hide Gmail’s advertising. There never was any advertising on iCloud Mail.
Online ads are a commodity. They do little to earn money. They do a lot to cheapen the user experience. If Microsoft wants its mail service to be taken seriously as a productivity tool it needs to drop the advertising. Showing advertising to paying customers is greedy. Microsoft can be better than this.