Why I am ditching Outlook.com

Posted On 2015-06-08 by dwirch
Tags: Blog General 
Views: 3869

There is one simple reason that I am moving my email back to Gmail: Search is broken.

My mailbox contains over 90,000 (yes, ninety thousand) email messages. In working with this massive amount of mail, I've come to rely on the search functionality within email clients, web-based or client based.

Prior to the introduction of Outlook.com, I had used Gmail for being the recipient of my various email addresses, mainly for the amazing search functionality. Searches returned quickly, with the results I was looking for.

However, when Outlook.com made it's appearance in 2013, I was happy to jump on board.  I had been using my HoTMaiL account since 1997 for various reasons.  With the new interface of Outlook.com, and the promised ease of use, I made a leap over to Outlook.com.

The transition was relatively painless, mainly because most of my email comes from various email forwarders. It was a simply matter to change the forwards to send to my Outlook.com address rather than my email address. I was even able to replicate my Gmail box over to my Outlook mailbox pretty easily.

Things were great, for a while.

Around late November/early December of 2014, I began to notice increased response time when performing searches. Around the middle of December of 2014, searches failed with a message like this:

Outlook Fail

After some looking around the Microsoft Communities, as well as the internet in general, I found that thousands of other folks appeared to be have the same issue.  Answers from MS "support engineers" usually directed the emptying of cache, or use of Internet Explorer.  There is at least one thread that purports that there is a known issue, and the problem should be resolved in a week.

Here it is 18 months later, and guess what?  The problem still exists.  New posts are being made regularly in the MS forums, begging for a fix.  
In the interest of research, I did some completely unscientific testing.

Both my Gmail and Outlook.com mailboxes contain roughly 90,000 messages. Performing a search of the word "Webmaster" completed in .2 seconds on Gmail, 18 seconds on Outlook. Other single keyword searches performed similarly on Gmail. 

Interstingly, when I performed the same searches on Outlook.com, the search wouldn't finish about 50\\\% of the time.  In those times it couldn't finish, I simply got the message shown above.

I've already redirected forwarders back to Gmail. I hope the Outlook.com team takes notices of this problem. Not taking care of a integral feature such as search could go a long way to alienating a big portion of the 420 million subscribers they have now.

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