news Australia’s largest telco Telstra has promised its BigPond customers a faster and enhanced email service named BigPond with Windows Live, without the need to change email addresses. The caveat? Their data will now also be stored offshore with Microsoft.
According to a statement issued by Telstra, the new service assures more storage, Microsoft Office apps, as well as the facility to edit and share photos and movies. The partnership with Microsoft will enable Telstra to offer Microsoft Hotmail, SkyDrive and Windows Live to its 4.2 million BigPond mailboxes.
The new move to integrate BigPond with Windows Live is the outcome of Telstra and Microsoft forming a strategic alliance late in 2008. In December 2011, Telstra had revealed that it was consulting its customers about how the BigPond platform could evolve to better suit their needs. The company had been considering integrating its email services with Microsoft’s Windows Live Suite platform to provide new applications and services to its customers.
Telstra’s Executive Director of Media, Applications and User Experience, J-B Rousselot said that customers had indicated their need for more from their email service, but had wanted the option of retaining their email address.
Rousselot stated that new BigPond customers would receive the Windows Live service, while Telstra would contact current customers over the course of the year with instructions on how to migrate to the new service. “To assist customers we have set up a dedicated ‘self help’ website including “how to” videos, Q&A’s and updates on progress of the changeover. Our social media channels and 13 POND are ready to help our customers if they need help with moving photos, blogs and other applications,” Rousselot explained.
Kevin Grobler, partner alliance business development manager, Microsoft Australia said that Hotmail promises a fast, secure and reliable email service, but that the value for BigPond customers went much beyond just email. “The suite of Windows Live products also includes enhanced security features, and virtually unlimited storage of photos and documents in the cloud with SkyDrive,” Grobler revealed. Microsoft hosts the Windows Live platform in its global cloud outside of Australia, with Singapore the nearest hub.
Assuring support from both the company’s call centre and the online site, Rousselot said that Telstra was committed to help its customers through the process with answers and guidance to make the switch as easy as possible. Telstra will retain control of the systems managing its customers’ usernames, account and password management functions.
Windows Live comprises a comprehensive offering of web, POP and SMTP access to users’ email, unlimited online storage and file synchronisation through the SkyDrive and Mesh products, and hosted blogging through WordPress.com. Microsoft ActiveSync also provides contact, calendar and task synchronisation. The Windows Live platform also includes: Integration with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, Microsoft Web Apps, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker.
A Microsoft spokesperson clarified late on Friday that the service would not, in its original form, be hosted in Australia. Instead, Telstra will duplicate the internationally-hosted repository locally.