Will Microsoft listen to the FixOutlook Twitter backlash against Outlook 2010?

One of the strengths of Twitter is the ability to get quick feedback, but Microsoft might not be seeing it as a positive right now.

I first picked up on the complaints about Outlook 2010 and the resulting FixOutlook site via Hacker News on Wednesday morning.

The reason the movement have started is that Microsoft intend to use the Word rendering engine to display HTML emails in Outlook 2010, and this means:

for the next 5 years your email designs will need tables for layout, have no support for CSS like float and position, no background images and lots more. Want proof? Here’s the same email in Outlook 2000 & 2010.

That means angry developers, which is never good on the internet. The use of Fix Outlook, which is a nicely presented stream of people ReTweeting the message (HT to Neville Hobson for a nice summary and digging a little into who is behind the site), and the move from core users to mainstream means the site went from 7,500 tweeters at around 1pm UK time on Wednesday to 16,676 just five hours later. And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down yet!

Especially as it’s now being picked up by the likes of Mashable.

The main questions are how significant Microsoft will see this protest, in comparison to the likely number of potential Office customers who don’t use Twitter and won’t understand or care about tables or CSS – and whether that significance will result in any action on their part.

But even if it’s a small group numerically, considering the relatively high proportion of digital workers and developers using Twitter, it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few days.

Just off to another brilliant example of Twitter for events

I’m just about to pack up my laptop and head over to Aperitweat, a cool gathering of Tweeple organised by the inimitable @tojulius.

It’s been publicised via his Twitter friends, registration was via Twtvite, a live Twitterstream will be at the event (hashtags #aptw or #aperitweat), and the whole thing is being streamed live via Ustream.

So in addition to the skills and contacts Julius already has (see the eventmanagerblog for examples), the marketing cost is nothing for a brilliant range of coverage which has packed the place to capacity.

Another example of the ability for self-forming events for little or no cost.

And that’s just a relatively low-profile example in a week when Twitter was used to attempt revoluation in Moldova (see some coverage via Nick Carr and All Things Digital).

And it’s in the week when the first drill has been created with some of the amazing $250,000 raised by the Twestival event in 2020 cities worldwide.

Twestival Well Drilling – Day 1 from Ethiopia – charity: water from charity: water on Vimeo.

See more of the Twestival videos on Live Earth.

Did Twitter play a part in Facebook rolling back Terms of Service?

An interesting post on the Twittown apps and widget community blog suggested Twitter ‘Took on Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Won‘.

It tracks the timeline between Facebook updating the Terms of Service for the social network, and rolling back to the original terms due to the outcry over ownership of content uploaded.

And while I don’t believe that Twitter outcry alone led to the decision to move back to the original terms and consult users about updates – Google blog search shows the outcry through full length blogging – the Twittown post does suggest that Twitter opinions had a significant effect.

And I would expect the Facebook team to be monitoring Twitter alongside all other channels – especially as FB considered Twitter important enough to try to buy it!

And it shows how monitoring and responding to probably the largest, and certainly the quickest online focus group makes sense for adding value and monetisation, whether it’s by Twitter, or third-party applications like Tweetdeck.