I confess to being totally underwhelmed at the prospect of being able to use “Send”, the new email application from the Microsoft Garage that is “built specifically for those brief, snappy communications.” Apparently it’s not good enough to have Outlook on mobile devices when you just want to send a line or so to update a single user about some news. Old-fashioned SMS won’t do either, nor will WhatsApp or even an IM application. We need something new to make the news that we want to share better, brighter, and more compelling than ever before.
The Microsoft Garage is responsible for Send. I like incubator-like organizations that are charged to develop “wild ideas” to see what results. It’s kind of like throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. The stuff that does is kept while the ideas that don’t slide off into obscurity. Most ideas coming out of incubators fail. I have a bad feeling about this one.
The technical details of the Send application are pretty straightforward. It uses Exchange Web Services to connect to Exchange Online, just like Outlook for Mac does. Messages are stored in user mailboxes, but the Send Azure service ensures that only messages initiated in the app are surfaced in Send. Of course, the client is simplicity itself because it’s designed to essentially mimic SMS conversations. Or even Twitter DMs.
The trumpeting that “With Send, there are no signatures, subject lines or salutations required” is hardly new. Like many others, especially those who embraced email with Blackberry devices before the smartphone revolution took hold, I have long been accustomed to sending one-line questions or responses to work mates. There is nothing written down that messages have to be fully formed to be useful. Indeed, one of the best pieces of advice given to me by a CEO was that any mail sent to him should clearly state the question in the first two lines as he probably won’t read anything after that. Thus, if I wanted action, I sent a concise and precise message.
But the real problem I see in Send is that it’s just another blinking application to install on a smartphone or tablet. Those whose mailbox is on-premises are less afflicted than those who connect to Office 365 because they have really just had Outlook up to this point. But the cloud folks have separate applications for Outlook, Delve, Office 365 Groups, etc. etc. etc. The number of applications is proliferating without adding value.
I also don't know what real-life problem the Send application solves. As pointed out above, other applications already exist for single-line simple messaging. It seems very much like Send is an example of Microsoft attempting to show that they too can be "cool".
Maybe I am a killjoy, but I ask whether adding Send to the set of applications available to be installed on mobile devices makes things easier for people or simply augments the list of output from Microsoft Garage to help justify its existence.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy having mobile access to data on a smartphone or tablet. But I prefer it when an integrated view is taken instead of a series of fragmented insights into particular domains, which is what I see happening in the mobile apps for Office 365.
I’m sure that it’s faster to create an app that is dedicated to a particular aspect of a service. It’s undoubtly easier to maintain such an app when no dependencies exist on other parts of a service. But it can be infuriating for a user to begin doing something in one app, realize that they need some data from a different app, and then find that no link exists between the two.
The Send app is now available for iOS. it will soon be available for Android and then for Windows Phone. If you decide that you'd like to block the app, Paul Cunningham explains how on ExchangeServerPro.com. As Paul points out in his article, users can connect to Exchange Online using Send by bypassing MDM policies, which doesn't seem good.
So I just wonder whether life wouldn’t be easier if Microsoft focused on more and better integration and interconnectivity between current apps rather than allowing new apps to pop up and confuse. Choice is wonderful; simplicity is good; integration is better.
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