Microsoft has refused to comment on a news story reporting that the company has ceased development work on its email client Outlook Express.

A spokesman refused either to confirm or deny whether there would be future upgrades for Outlook Express, or whether Longhorn, the next version of Windows due in 2006, will continue to include it, or whether the mail client would be a detachable or uninstallable part of the OS. However, the Microsoft press office was able to say that, "Microsoft will continue to ship Outlook Express code in Windows and support it as needs arise."

The original story, found on ZDNet Australia, quoted one Dan Leach, lead product manager for Microsoft's information worker product management group, as saying: "[Outlook Express] just sits where it is. The technology doesn't go away, but no new work is being done. It is consumer email in an early iteration and our investment in the consumer space is now focused around Hotmail and MSN. That's where we're putting the emphasis in terms of new investment and new development work."

While many corporate users continue to use Outlook Express for personal email, IT managers are more likely to want them to switch to Outlook which can be fully supported from the centre, lowering both support calls and potential legal liability issues, as well as ensuring that any enterprise information that may leak into Outlook Express client databases is both secured and properly backed up.