50 years after the advent of email as we know it, it remains the one mode of electronic communication that you can virtually count on someone having. WhatsApp has 2 billion active users, and Facebook has 2.98 billion active users, but email has 4.26 billion active users with Microsoft mail services taking a big chunk of the pie chart.
Microsoft entered the domain of email in 1993 with the launch of Microsoft Exchange Server, which was primarily designed for business and enterprise environments. Exchange Server allowed organizations to manage their own internal email systems, providing features such as calendaring, contacts, and collaboration tools.
The first free web-based email services on the internet, RocketMail, and Hotmail, were founded in 1996, and one year later Microsoft acquired Hotmail, establishing them firmly in the email market. Today, Microsoft provides a wide range of electronic communications and mail services, from the well-known Outlook to the enterprise-focused Exchange, SharePoint, and Yammer.
This post will take a close look at Microsoft’s suite of mail services, explore the differences between them and explain who can most benefit from each service.
What’s on this page
|Feature||Outlook||Office 365||Exchange Server|
|Platform||Desktop, web, and mobile||Desktop, web, and mobile||Server|
|Email management||Yes||Yes (via Outlook included in subscription)||Yes|
|Calendar, contacts, tasks||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cloud Storage||No||Yes (via OneDrive)||No|
|Other Office Applications||No||Yes (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)||No|
|Installation||On individual devices||On up to 5 devices per user||On-premises server|
|Subscription Based||No (One-time purchase available)||Yes||No (One-time purchase available)|
|Collaboration Features||Limited||Yes (via Teams and SharePoint)||Limited|
With its impressive capabilities, Outlook has rapidly emerged as a leading email client, enjoying a surge of growth in recent years. It has succeeded in building an awe-inspiring user base of over 400 million active users from around the globe. Even in the US, it holds a significant market share, being the choice of 16% of email users.
Microsoft Outlook is a desktop application with a feature-rich email client and personal information manager. It is part of the Microsoft Office suite and provides advanced functionalities for managing emails, calendars, contacts, tasks, and more.
Microsoft Outlook offers offline access, extensive customization options, and integration with other Office applications. It also offers support for additional features like Outlook signatures, mail merge, and advanced rules. Outlook is a paid product, available with Microsoft 365 subscriptions. It is primarily used by individuals and businesses that prefer a robust, locally installed application.
In 2013, Microsoft rebranded its free Hotmail service as Outlook.com. Over the years Hotmail had developed a bad reputation for security issues and spam. The rebranding enabled Microsoft to leave that behind, and instead capitalize on the positive reputation and recognition of their Outlook desktop application.
Outlook.com offers a modern interface, seamless integration with other Microsoft services (like OneDrive and Skype), and features such as conversation threading, spam filtering and powerful search capabilities. Outlook.com is accessible from any web browser and provides flexibility and convenience, allowing users to access their emails and manage their personal information from anywhere. It is used by individuals or small organizations looking for a free email provider and occupies the same market segment as Gmail, AOL, and ZohoMail.
Outlook Live is the email and personal information management service provided to educational institutions, typically through Microsoft Office 365 for Education. It offers similar functionalities to the desktop application and Outlook.com but is tailored specifically for educational purposes.
Outlook Live allows students, faculty, and staff to have personalized email accounts, calendars, contacts, and more, with enhanced security and administrative controls provided by the educational institution
Office 365 (Statistics)
Currently, Microsoft 365 serves a remarkable user base of 345 million paid subscribers. The suite generated a significant revenue stream of USD 63.36 billion in 2022, marking its financial strength. As of the same year, Microsoft Office 365 holds a dominant market position with approximately 47.9% share. The largest industry segment among Microsoft Office 365 users is the construction sector, accounting for 6%. Geographically, the United States represents 34% of Microsoft Office 365 customers, followed by the United Kingdom with an 8% share. Microsoft’s operational reach spans more than 150 countries and regions. Moreover, in 2022, an estimated 39,930 users tapped into Microsoft 365 services every hour.
About Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based suite of productivity applications that includes popular tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook plus the ability to add an Office 365 signature to your emails using an email signature manager. It provides access to these applications across devices, along with collaboration features, email services, and cloud storage.
Email services are an important part of Office 365 beyond the direct email application; for example, emails can be populated by an Excel spreadsheet and set up and sent from Word. While Office 365 allows you to integrate external email providers and accounts, there are distinct advantages to using one of the built-in Microsoft mail services, like Outlook or Exchange, as your Office 365 email:
The tight integration of Microsoft email services provides a seamless experience within the Office 365 ecosystem, ensuring smooth collaboration and data sharing between email, calendars, contacts, and other Office 365 applications. This integration enhances productivity and simplifies workflows.
Exchange server (Statistics)
Every Exchange Online server, of which there are 300,000, is a physical Windows server tasked with supporting a staggering 7.3 billion mailboxes. That’s not a misprint. As of April 2022, Office 365 boasted 345 million monthly active users, a number that could now be approaching 375 million. The astonishing number of mailboxes can be attributed to the variety of mailbox types deployed within Exchange Online, extending beyond the simple user count.
Microsoft Exchange is a messaging and collaboration platform. It provides email, calendaring, contacts, and tasks management services primarily for business and enterprise environments. Exchange serves as a centralized system that allows users to send, receive, and organize email messages, schedule appointments, manage contacts and coordinate tasks, and of course the ability to set up Email signatures for exchange.
One of Exchange’s key strengths is its server-client architecture, where Microsoft Exchange Server is installed on the server side, and clients (such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook on the web) interact with the server to access and manage email and other data.
Exchange offers a range of features that are important at the enterprise level, including robust security measures, advanced spam filtering, and data loss prevention capabilities to safeguard sensitive information. It supports integration with other Microsoft services like SharePoint and Skype for Business, enabling seamless collaboration and communication.
Outlook VS Office 365 VS Exchange
Outlook is primarily an email client but it also includes additional features such as a calendar, task manager, and contact manager. Office 365, on the other hand, is a subscription-based service that provides access to a range of Microsoft tools. This includes Outlook as well as other applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive for cloud storage. Lastly, Exchange Server is a mail and calendaring server developed by Microsoft. It is primarily designed to be used by businesses as an on-premises solution and is intended to be used in conjunction with Outlook.
The table below provides a more detailed comparison between these three tools, highlighting their key features and differences.
Microsoft Dynamics is a suite of integrated business applications developed by Microsoft to help organizations manage and streamline various aspects of their operations. It offers a range of solutions designed to address specific business needs, including customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), and more.
Dynamics and business management
Business management almost always intersects with email, whether it is customer support over email, email communication with prospects and leads or emails to other team members. Accordingly, Dynamics integrates with many external email providers – but using it with Microsoft email services offers special benefits in productivity and efficiency. Read more about business management software solutions.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM, part of the Dynamics 365 suite, offers native integration with email systems such as Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. This integration allows users to access and manage their email communications directly within the CRM platform. Users can track emails, associate them with specific contacts or accounts and view email history as part of the customer’s record.
Using the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, users can link email messages, meetings and appointments to a row in their Dynamics app, view CRM information in the context of an email message, meeting or appointment, and easily add email templates, knowledge articles and sales literature when creating an email message or setting up a meeting.
Microsoft Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of email products for organizations and is a collaboration platform that brings together chat, video meetings, file sharing, and app integration in one place. It enables teams to communicate, collaborate and work together efficiently.
Microsoft Teams and Email Functionality
One might notice that Teams itself doesn’t feature a specific email tool. That aspect of communication is catered to by Microsoft 365’s Outlook tool. As such, there is no direct integration within Teams to manage your Outlook emails. While some might see this as a disadvantage, Microsoft has made it clear that integrating an email management tool into Teams is not on their roadmap.
Integrating Teams Chat with Microsoft Outlook
On a positive note, Microsoft is working on a new feature that will integrate Teams chat into Microsoft Outlook. This addition aims to facilitate discussions about meeting times and other collaborative efforts directly within Outlook. As a result, users can seamlessly plan and coordinate their activities within the same platform where they handle their emails.
Maximizing Productivity with Microsoft Teams
Teams is more than a simple communication tool. It’s a platform that combines a multitude of functions to maximize productivity within an organization. It’s especially useful for remote teams, allowing individuals spread out across different locations to collaborate as if they were in the same room. Real-time chat, document sharing, and video conferencing – these are all readily available in Teams.
Customizing Teams for a Personalized Experience
Teams also offer robust customization options, allowing users to tailor the platform to their specific needs. These include custom backgrounds for video calls, the ability to pin important messages, and a range of plugins and integrations to further enhance productivity.
Future Developments of Microsoft Teams
The forthcoming integration of Teams chat with Microsoft Outlook underlines Microsoft’s commitment to continuously improving its platform. Users can look forward to an even more integrated experience between Teams and other Microsoft 365 applications in the future. With Microsoft Teams, the goal is not only to streamline workflows but also to facilitate more efficient communication and collaboration in a digitized working environment.
Microsoft Yammer is an enterprise social networking platform that allows organizations to create private communication channels for employees. It promotes collaboration, knowledge sharing, and engagement across teams, departments, and the entire organization. Yammer facilitates discussions, sharing updates and fostering a sense of community within the workplace.
While Yammer is effectively an alternative to email, Microsoft does offer a native integration between Yammer and Outlook. The integration enables the user to work with Yammer in their Outlook Inbox, so they do not have to move back and forth. This provides users with a seamless communication experience, increasing comfort and productivity.
Microsoft email security
Microsoft puts a strong emphasis on security, and its email services offer advanced security features such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and robust spam and malware protection. Microsoft also ensures compliance with various industry regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA. Using Microsoft email services within Office 365 helps protect sensitive data and maintain regulatory compliance.
Microsoft email services offer rich collaboration features, allowing users to easily share calendars, schedule meetings and collaborate on documents directly from within their email interface. These features promote teamwork, increase efficiency, and streamline communication within your organization.
The Choice is yours!
In today’s digital world, staying connected is crucial. Choosing the right internal and external communications channels for you, your employees and your business can mean the difference between smooth, fruitful communication and frustrating, disjointed efforts to connect.
Microsoft’s commitment to innovation and user-centric design ensures that no matter who you are, if you consider Microsoft’s options carefully, you are almost certain to find a solution that can help you connect and communicate effectively in the modern business world.