I should probably have said 'to get feedback on Hotmail' but since nobody really likes Hotmail (I think I'm on safe ground there) it was a brave thing to do.
Some of the replies were a real surprise. I used to use Hotmail - most thirtysomethings did at some point because it's what there was when we first needed email. Apparently we're all leaving now though and when Microsoft asked what it would take to get us back, the first reply and one that kept coming up was...
"Rebrand it and run an ad campaign"
So much for focus groups. Everyone's an amateur marketer!
There's a good point hiding in there somewhere about how "@hotmail" sounds a bit unprofessional and lots of people would probably like an "@office.com" address but it's really not why we all left for gmail in droves.
Quick taste test. Is this a Microsoft product or a Google one?
That was too easy.
Hotmail's a mess. It's had half hearted attempts at social networking and news feeds bolted to it, is awkward to use and it doesn't play nicely with smartphones (through the web UI or IMAP) to name just a few problems. Actually, being a Microsoft tool it doesn't play nicely with anything that Microsoft don't build.
These are huge issues that need to be sorted long before you even think about a re-brand, otherwise you're just spending advertising money bringing people to your site, so that they can remind themselves how bad it is and disappear for another few years.
it's been a while since this one came out. Apparently some email users think it really works too.