What does Microsoft's purchase of Acompli mean for Outlook?

Earlier this morning, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Acompli for a rumored $200 million. For Windows Phone users, Acompli is a new name. Indeed, many of us were not even aware of the company because their claim to fame – an email client – is only available on iOS and Android.

Like many people, after hearing the news I went and downloaded Acompli to my iPhone 6 (don't fret, I keep it on standby for such instances). Let me explain why the app earns the rave reviews from users.

Acompli email screens

Clean, smart and almost universal

Acompli is attractive for a few reasons, mostly feature related:

  • Multiple inbox support: Outlook, Exchange, Gmail, Dropbox, Box, iCloud and more
  • Unique features: add location to email with a single button touch, send availability, and create invite
  • Attach from anywhere: Accompli connects up to Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Dropbox and Google Drive
  • Focused Inbox: Acompli weeds out newsletters, spam, and other items to reveal only 'real' emails
  • Scheduling: By sliding on a message, you can schedule an email to disappear and reappear in your inbox
  • Calendar and Contact support
  • Linked inbox view: multiple accounts can be fed into a single email inbox

Best of all, for iOS and Android, Acompli is free to use. It is not clear what Acompli's long-term business plan was for revenue, but at least this is a problem they no longer have to consider.

Overall, the app is clean, minimalist, and easy to use. If you are a fan of Outlook.com or the Windows 8.1 app, you can quickly grasp the attractiveness of Acompli for Microsoft.

Microsoft's plans for Acompli?

Despite today's announcement, Microsoft has not made clear what will happen with the app. For instance, this is the only thing Microsoft revealed on their announcement post (opens in new tab):

"We're excited about what's possible as we build on the app's success and bring it together with work currently in progress by the Outlook team. Our goal is to deliver fantastic cross-platform apps that support the variety of email services people use today and help them accomplish more."

As a result, Microsoft could implement Acompli's design and technology into their Outlook products and for $200 million, the price of the company is relatively low for what they get.

On the other hand and as Paul Thurrott articulated nicely, Microsoft could rebrand the app as Outlook.com in order to deliver a consistent email experience across iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone. Thurrott notes that currently, the app experience of Outlook varies across all three platforms, and this goes against Microsoft's articulated 'one' vision.

If making Accompli into Outlook is the goal, a Windows Phone/Windows universal app would likely co-launch with Windows 10 later next year. This strategy makes sense when you consider how Microsoft has decoupled Xbox Music, Video, Podcasts and even system settings like Battery Saver from the Windows Phone OS. They have done this in order to update dynamically those bits without the need for an OS upgrade. Why not do the same for the email client?

As of today, the email experience on Windows Phone is lacking even when compared to the Outlook.com version. Sure, Outlook on Windows Phone is clean, minimalist and meets the standards for average users, but Google is clearly the email-master, while iOS makes up for their anemic client through excellent third-party alternatives. Microsoft needs to beef up the email for Windows 10 and building off Acompli and taking the best of Outlook.com could be that path.

We are certainly keeping our eyes on what the Outlook team delivers in the coming months. In the meantime, tell me what you think of the acquisition and potential plans in comments.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

186 Comments
  • Nicely explained :)
  • I didn't learn much. I'm happy with email on WP and am worried this will mess it up to add features I don't want or need.
  • Yes, let's cripple and hinder functionality across the board based on your specific needs... Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • You mean like how non-WP email and calendar clients routinely screw up group appointments on Exchange when accepting or declining reschedules and other changes? (I'm especially looking at you iOS.) That said, the Windows 8 mail app has always had an issue with my ISP's MAPI client when it comes to deleting messages, while Outlook (the application) and WP's mail client work flawlessly in that regard.
  • How can you be happy with email on WP?  It's an utter disaster.
  • Utter disaster? Really? I think not. Works great for me. That's not to say there aren't those who want more features though.
  • It's terrible compared to anything else. If you do not have an activated Android kit Kat phone and an active Gmail account you cannot speak here.
  • Wait what? You cannot speak here on WINDOWS CENTRAL without an Android??
  • Went to Outlook tried to compose an email today to send a video I had shot earlier. No dice. How could I forget I need to go camera roll instead, silly me.
  • Try attaching a document. I tried the other day. Not possible.
  • Attaching a document can be accomplished two ways, both are flawed regardless: 1)attach via office hub, however your limited to 1 attachment, subsequent attachments not possible as the file picker directs into the photo hub 2)use a file manager and share your documents however that means composing a new email and pasting the contents into the email you need to send. Photos are not a problem and also to attach to a video you need to share or use a filepicker...
  • I really wonder how and why this attachment feature was left out of the Mail client in WP. This is something really basic and essential. And worse, it has not yet been added and it is unlikely that it will be either till Windows 10 drops.
  • You do know there is now a "Files" app for WP now right?
    I quickly just opened the files app and selected multiple files (two images) and then tapped "share" and then selected the email account I wanted to use. It attached both files easily and flawlessly. Now sure what else you're expecting.
    http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/files/762e837f-461d-4847-8399-3526f54fc25e
  • @poddie It doesn't "work great" for you or anyone else, because it sucks horribly beyond compare.  My PalmOS Treo offered a better email experience than WP. Want to edit a forward or reply before sending?  No dice. Want to attach anything other than a photo to a forward or reply?  No dice. Want to italicize something for emphasis?  No dice. Without a doubt, WP offers the world's worst email client.  It is just plain terrible.  Sad, because the one on Windows 8.1 is, at least, passable.  Not good, but passable.  Why not make it available on WP 8 as a start?
  • Yeah, even Windows Mobile 6 has a better email client.  Agendus (PalmOS) is better than Calendar (WP),  and Chatter is better than Mail (WP) :/ Symbian still has more features than Windows Phone 8.1 Microsoft is slow when it comes to anything Windows Phone related.
  • I'm XTC, are you sure about all those? I can edit a forward, I just tried it. You are right that the client cant attach anything but a photo. I can forward attachments from the OneDrive app though. The good news is that Activesync + Windows Phone mail is just like Outlook.com or 365, far superior in sync reliability compared to IMAP. I've had an iPad duplicate all my contacts, and screw up all my linked contacts. I always think you should stick to one ecosystem stack. Android +Gmail. Apple + iCloud (or whatever its called this year, it changes) or Windows + MS Services. The mail client is good, it just needs additional functionality.    
  • @hwangeruk Yes, I am sure.  I'm on my new 8.1U1 HTC One for Windows and I can't edit a forward or reply. But saying "the mail client is good, it just needs additional functionality" is like saying, "Everybody can relax, I found the car. Needs some suspension work...and shocks, brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, and rear-end.  Only $4,800.  Also new rings, mufflers, and a little wiring."
  • Wait a minute... x I'm tc is telling me that it doesn't work great for me?  You know my usage patterns, and what I want from an email client?  You, sir, are the problem with the internet.  You can't possibly imagine that everyone doesn't want exactly what you want.  So narcissistic and presumptive.   Yes, it does work great for me.  I have no need to edit forwards.  I rarely need to attach files other than pictures, and when I do I use OneDrive anyway.  The interface is very clean and very fast, and that is a priority for me.  Reliability is perfect... never had a crash or an error.  As I said, there are certianly features that some would find useful that are missing.  That still does not qualify as "an utter disaster". 
  • It lacks some features like multiple file attaching, format-editing, and some more here and there which may mean the world to some, but some may n not even pay heed to them. But calling it an utter disaster is a bit too harsh. My POV.
  • @Prakeern98_lumia520 What would qualify as an utter disaster if not this? It is the worst email client on any device I have ever used.
  • What do you use for email currently?
  • Thank you! Sometimes I don't understand some people.WP mail app is a disappointment sorry to say
  • @lippidp I agree with you 100%!  Yes, they decoupled XBox music and has made it worst.  It's damn near looks crippled than what it used to be.  This nonsense about being able to update quicker is bunk.  How many updates have they done with the new music app?  And it still not even close to what it was.  Microsoft has a bad habit of taking 10 steps backwards them taking iddy biddy steps forwards and call it progress.  I'm with RodneyJ on this.  Stop pretending MS cares about those who support their products.  They are probably doing this only to support those who use iOS and Android.
  • Seriously, I suspect they disbanded the awesome Zune team, that's the only explanation for the disappointing Xbox music fiasco!
  • They did.
  • Nice waiting for this!!!!
  • Where's the wp app? Just kiddin'
  • What will be the fate of Accompli?
  • I mean, I think I spend the lower half of the article talking about that question.
  • We're suppose to read these things? I thought we were just suppose to read the headlines, then ask questions from there. I've always assumed that those words below the headlines were your personal diary.
  • Too bad you can't "Share to Speech Lite" the article, to cut out all that reading.
  • Hey Daniel, these are the same people who think you can get Lumia Cyan/Denim by downloading the Developer Preview.  Great article!  Thanks for rhe info.
  • I think you missed the (bad) joke.  He's making a pun on the Latin expression 'fait accompli'.
  • Whoosh! Right over Rubino's head.
     
  • Rod was making a joke.
  • I liked Jas' joke better.
  • LOL, good one.
  • Bravo on that joke. Loved it.
  • ​Fait accompli ​- Something pretty much set in stone to happen. Huh. Who knew my reading of Nietzsche would ever have value in an article about a mobile app? ​
  • Anyway we won't get it. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • ur android. u will definitely. Microsoft isnt a cruel cross platform company.
  • Nice one. Idk what's wrong with Google and android they are like stubborn kids. Money is the only thing on their mind I guess.
  • Am wp user also.I here meant wp won't get this app from MS nd only android or iPhone users will get it. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • windows 10 wont do cruelty with. bcoz its ine windows. Microsoft doesn't have to spend their time updating for full windows, RT,wp.
  • windows 10 wont do cruelty with. bcoz its ine windows. Microsoft doesn't have to spend their time updating for full windows, RT,wp.
  • Who's we? I just installed it on my OnePlus.
     
  • Calling it "Outlook.com" wouldn't make much sense since Microsoft has said they'll keep the current features of the app, such as support for all email services. On the other hand, rebranding it to "Outlook" and making it part of the Office suite is logical.
  • Last I checked, Outlook Mobile on Windows Phone lets me sync up Google email, Yahoo, etc. How exactly is Acompli any different? Explain, please.
  • But the "Outlook.com" app on Android and iOS can't connect to other email services than Microsoft's. EDIT: Oh, maybe you meant rebranding the Windows/Phone apps?
  • I think that is exactly the problem I mention in talking about app experience inconsistency...
  • No, the native apps on Windows/Phone are called "Mail" because they obviously have to support all email services, so it wouldn't be logical to rebrand these to "Outlook.com". I'm asking myself if Microsoft will decide to keep the app free for everyone or make it require an Office 365 account. In the first case, they IMO should: • rebrand the Acompli app to "Outlook" on Android and iOS in a future update • make it part of the Office suite • remove the Outlook.com apps from the said platforms • update the Windows/Phone Mail apps and make them at least equivalent to the Android and iOS Outlook apps. In the second case, they IMO should: • rebrand the Acompli app to "Outlook" on Android and iOS in a future update • make it part of the Office suite and make it require an Office 365 subscription • keep the Outlook.com apps on the said platforms for its own email service • release a Modern Outlook app for Windows/Phone requiring an Office 365 subscription at least equivalent to its Android and iOS counterparts. Whatever they decide, they'll obviously integrate interesting features into the Outlook desktop apps.
  • Agreed. I installed it on my HTC One M7 and this app appears to offer what just what Microsoft needs to be branded as an "Outlook" app. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • Outlook Mobile <> Outlook.com I think the point is that Accompli should be come Outlook Mobile, IOW the Mobile version of the Outlook email client. It's already most of the way there. Outlook.com, the redheaded stepchild of MS service names, needs a rebrand. Especially since for most people Outlook is the MS brand for not just email, but collaboration like email, calendaring and contacts. Outlook.com is distinct from Calendar and Contacts in the web app versions and superficially it's also disinct as an App on iOS and Android.  I think "Outlook.com" as an Email service needs ANOTHER rebrand (I suggest simply, Microsoft Mail) and keep Outlook clearly defined as a software client. That said, they could create a web app for Outlook too - similar to the rest of the Office online web apps - but they need to make clear that it's a client for MS's email, calendar and contact services. And yes, I know this already exists as part of Office 365/Exchange for business, but it should be a single experience for the end user with different data sources (Outlook.com/Hotmail vs Exchange). 
  • Or we get at last an incomplete app
  • Hopefully this means Windows Phone will finally get native free/busy support!
  • What??? I'm pretty sure it has it already
  • I think it is nice move. It might be even an indirect jab at Google's childish behaviour i.e not making apps for WP. This can be an efficient alternative. With this we can say who the heck needs Google's official app when we have got better than those, mytube/metrotube for YouTube and now this and so on. Only thing that I couldn't find good alternative was for Google skymap.
  • I don't like using Third-Party apps especially when they cost money.. So I would still like an official YouTube app.
  • Mytube and metrotube are absolutely free, in the case of latter one it has unlimited free trial and still no ads. Even if I get an official one, I would still like to stick with these.
  • Eventually, the mobile space will be dominated by so called third party apps just like the legacy desktop. This is only a natural evolution. Consider apps like pidgin vs yahoo messenger or google talk. Pidgin IMHO is better than the official chat apps of yahoo and google. And so many other examples.
  • I'll never understand by everyone complains about not having an official YouTube app.  I just use the mobile YouTube website.  It works the same way as an app would and I simply pin the YouTube website to my start screen as a live tile.  I even log into my account with my Gmail info and all my favorites, watch later, etc. are all there.  I mean, really, what's the difference?
  • Customers like these are the majoirty of WP that's MSFT doesn't update their apps or OS. These folks will accept ANYTHING.
     
  • TubeCast is the best free one for WP that I've used. It even displays memory usage and supports captions.
  • I'll bet that if MS rebrand the app to Outlook, the second that the "O" in the name hits Google Play, Google will drop the support for the app. That would be just like them.
  • If they give up the outlook branding then they're really stupid
  • Who has suggested that route? No one to my knowledge.
  • I'm just speculating, Microsoft has made some really silly mistakes in the past
  • Give up outlook branding. And set aside the millions of people who us