Microsoft has announced Send, an app for iPhones that allows an email to be sent as if it is an instant message and expands on the company's Garage software development project.
The company described Send as an "in-and-out" email tool that lets people send co-workers emails that do not require traditional email constructs such as subject lines or formal salutations.
"You see only the messages started in Send, not your entire email inbox. But since Send is based on email, you can message anyone with an email address," Microsoft said.
"No additional sign up steps. And the people you message can respond from anywhere, even if they don't have the app."
Send is effectively Microsoft's way of merging the Outlook email software and instant messaging to create a more natural flow of conversation in email being sent between employees.
"While tools like text messaging and IM are great for short messages, you often don't have your co-worker's cell phone number or an IM app on your work phone," Microsoft's Outlook team wrote on the Office blog.
"And we've heard loud and clear from people at work that they want all their communications available in Outlook even if they send them from other apps."
Send is being launched in the US and Canada as an iPhone app initially, and Microsoft plans to push it out to Android and Windows Phone devices at a later date.
Email conversations initiated in Send are also delivered to a user's Outlook for Office 365 email account, allowing them to manage emails from a laptop or PC if they do not have their smartphone to hand.
IM and similar services are relatively common in the business world. IBM offers the Connections social network platform for enterprises, for example, so Microsoft has launched Send into a crowded market.
However, Send also represents an expansion of Microsoft's Garage project, where its developers work on software projects in their own time with the aim of cultivating new ideas.
Arguably, this makes Send and other Garage-developed apps, such as planning tool Tossup and note app InstaNote, experiments that Microsoft feels are worth pushing out to its customers, rather than rigorously developed apps designed to take on more established software in specific markets.
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