Microsoft UK Regional & Local Press Releases on Windows Live Hotmail

Last month I was contacted by Microsoft’s Press Office here in the UK asking me if I was interested in taking part in the Windows Live Hotmail celebrations, by speaking to the local media (newspapers/radio stations) to highlight the crucial role I had taken in developing Windows Live Hotmail. This of course sounded like a great opportunity, so I agreed and from there I was informed in more detail of what would happen.

I was informed that they were looking to develop regional PR (Press Release) stories around their key beta testers, one of which was me, and in order for this to happen, they were hoping to create some nice local news stories championing individuals and the role that they have played in the creation of Windows Live Hotmail.

After Microsoft had gathered some more information on myself and what I do, I was sent a draft copy of the Press Release and asked to verify all was ok. After all was verified I was told that I could expect the press release to go out to my Local Media in about 2 weeks.

Then came the waiting part… and then all of a sudden yesterday evening I got a phone call from Microsoft letting me know that the East Kent Gazette would like to speak to me, I phoned them up that afternoon and had a chat with them about myself and what I had been doing to help Microsoft in the developing process of Windows Live Hotmail. I was then asked if they could do a photo shoot ASAP. I agreed and this morning a guy came round to take photos of myself!

So hopefully sometime soon I’ll be in the papers. Can’t wait!

Here’s a final copy of the press release as sent out by Microsoft’s Press Office to my Local Media:

Local Student Helps Build Hotmail

Twenty one year old Darren Straight could be described as Kent’s very own Bill Gates after helping software giant Microsoft build its new version of Windows Live Hotmail, which launched earlier this month.

Two years ago, the final year IT student from Sittingbourne, who is also a trainee restaurant manager for McDonald’s, was hand-picked by Microsoft to be one of the company’s chief new product testers in the UK for its Windows Live services. Now, in his spare time, Darren swaps books and burgers for ‘bytes’ and ‘bugs’, consulting on the company’s home office tools and internet services.

To celebrate the launch of the new webmail service, Windows Live Hotmail has formed a unique collaboration with the British Library entitled ‘Email Britain’, to create the first ever archive of British emails today.  The British public has been asked to forward a memorable or significant email from their inbox or sent items to, for inclusion in a digital archive that will be stored at the British Library for future generations.

Seeking advice from testers like Darren has enabled Microsoft to produce the first ever webmail service created by emailers for emailers. His invaluable feedback throughout the development of the new Windows Live Hotmail has helped deliver an exciting new feature-rich product which will benefit emailers across the world.

As a frequent user of email, Darren recognised the need for the new Windows Live Hotmail to be easy to navigate and simple to use. As a result, web developers created a service with functions at the click of a mouse, including a drag and drop tool and a simple right-click menu.

Darren Straight says: It has been a privilege to work with Microsoft on the new Hotmail and really exciting that my thoughts on the service have had a direct impact on the way it’s been built.  For me, Hotmail is more than just an email service it’s much more user-friendly and suited to my needs.  It enables me to instantaneously communicate with friends and family across the globe with just a few clicks and is now even better – in part thanks to me!

Jo Wickremasinghe, Product Manager of Windows Live Services, says: We value the opinion of our users and their thoughts and suggestions are at the forefront of our minds when developing new products and services.  The new Windows Live Hotmail has been designed to incorporate the feedback from our independent testers, including Darren, to make sure we’re creating a service that is exactly what our users want it to be. We’re really excited about the new service which is set to reinvigorate email communication and make it even easier than before.

For more information on Email Britain please visit:

1 Comment

  1. Zack   •  

    I worked with Jo on the Family/Web safety projects – she’s a brilliant PM. She’s soon moved from FS to Hotmail (of course)…

    … I worked for Microsoft but didn’t get my name in the local paper. Sucks lol 🙂

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