A little over a month ago, the Outlook.com Team issued a notice that the Messaging history folder would be disappearing from Outlook.com in preparation for the further integration of Skype messaging. This is that complete notice in its entirety, sans graphics.

Dear Outlook.com customer,

We’re contacting you because we are making a change to the messaging history feature in Outlook.com.

Whenever you chat using Outlook.com whether it’s through Facebook, Google Talk, or Messenger, a copy of your chat is saved in the Messaging history folder. As part of adding Skype to Outlook.com, the Messaging history folder will be removed sometime this fall.

If you don’t use Outlook.com to chat, or don’t want to keep a copy of your conversations, there’s nothing you need to do.

If you want to keep a record of your chats, you’ll need to move them to another folder. To move your message history:
1.In Outlook.com, right-click Folders, and then click Add a new folder.
2.Enter a name for the folder and press the Enter key.
3.Click Messaging history, and then click the check box at the very top of your message list.
4.Click Select everything.
5.Right-click any message and then click Move.
6.Select the folder you want to move your messages to, and then click Move.

After the Messaging history folder is removed, a history of your Skype, Google Talk, and Facebook chat sessions can be found in the Messaging pane.

We remain focused on making Outlook.com the best email service available. Thanks for your understanding and patience as we update our services.

Sincerely,
The Outlook.com Team

Now as one of the few advocates of Microsoft’s increasing attempts to finally break with their tradition of supporting decades of legacy products, APIs, protocols, and features; I’m not one to normally criticize. I’ll even say that Windows RT is a step in the right direction toward leaving behind the legacy Windows API, because it replaces it with something that is inherently designed for touch, more secure, and arguably even more power-conscious.

But it has come to my attention that this upcoming change to Messaging history was clearly made without forethought to the “legacy” features that it will break. That isn’t even discussing the severely broken Skype messaging on Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone. I’ll save that for another day.

First, let’s look at that message.

As part of adding Skype to Outlook.com, the Messaging history folder will be removed sometime this fall.

Really? Sometime this fall? I realize these changes roll over load balancers and it takes time to get to everyone, but you can’t even set a final date to expect to see it? That means I now have to dive into my Messaging history folder every evening and move messages because I don’t know when they’ll actually disappear. I assume “sometime” between September 22 and December 21, which is “this fall,” chronologically speaking.

Now that I have begun moving my messages out of that folder, I’ve noticed that the text and Messenger message history on my Windows Phone has also begun to disappear. Where’d my text messages go?!

Whenever you chat using Outlook.com whether it’s through Facebook, Google Talk, or Messenger, a copy of your chat is saved in the Messaging history folder.

In fairness, they did say that Messenger messages would be affected. But nothing about text messages. Turns out the Messaging Hub “text message backup” feature is really just reading that Messaging history folder out of Outlook.com. So now as I attempt to back up all my messages for future reference, I, ironically, cannot view them on my phone any longer. Of course, something as simple as a “copy” option is not available. So it seems I now have to choose between being able to access my text message history now, until it is arbitrarily deleted sometime in the next three months, or have it later and be inconvenienced for the next three months. Is it really that unreasonable to expect both?

It amazes me, time and again, how poorly Microsoft can botch this Skype integration. This is, yet another instance, of Microsoft decommissioning a useful feature with no suitable replacement ready, including breaking integration between Outlook.com and Windows Phone 8 less than one year after the OS came to market. As I said before, I completely support Microsoft breaking from the past to end support for decades-old APIs and obsolete products. But this is supposed to be the future of Microsoft, and brand new features are already sitting on death row for no good reason.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Agree. I moved everything in that folder 3 days after receiving that message. Its a good job i did too, they erased the remaining messages not long after (messages were still being backed up, so i lost a few days worth of messages). Try moving a message back into that folder now and outlook deletes it! So what’s the point in having it?

    i contacted Microsoft at the time to ask what’s gone on and how to fix it. I’m still waiting for a reply weeks later.

    Hopefully your post will encourage a response from them!

  2. Same problem here. I also noticed immediately that my texts disappeared from my phone and couldn’t find a solution on the internet. As always with MS I just have to accept the fact that they don’t really care about “casualties” in their progress. I’m a big proponent of Windows Phone and Windows 8 and even Windows RT (I bought Surface RT and I’m really happy with it). However the way they do things is slowly pushing me away from them. In anger I even had a thought – what would it be like if I moved to Android and Google services. I bought Dell Venue Pro at an early stage. Apart from Dell’s terrible way of treating customers with this product I was very disappointed with MS and WP7/WP8 transition. I understood very well the need for creating something that wasn’t fully compatible with old devices. But some basic features to help customers move to a new version would be highly appreciated. After two years of waiting and finally getting WP7.8 I was treated with some resizable tiles but not with backup of my texts. Frankly I don’t give a damn about new sizes of tiles if I want to move forward with their OS. I want to be able to move my stuff from old phone to a new one. Huge disappointment. I could write a book about how Microsoft create good products but mistreat their customers. Sometimes I wonder – why am I doing this to myself…?

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