The much loathed over Microsoft Hotmail is now officially replaced by the new shiny, Metro inspired, Outlook.com. The rumour mills were true this time about Microsoft’s plans to give Hotmail a complete revamp in order to win its lost shares back from Gmail. The new Hotmail, Outlook.com is completely Metro inspired, giving the dying web-mail a much needed overhaul.
Microsoft, Eat your Words
Hotmail was a small revenue stream for Microsoft despite around 350 million accounts as of October 2011. Also it had its legacy of bad reputation, along with issues like missing emails, irritating SkyDrive advertisements smattered all over the site. The significant improvements made over the years did not help Hotmail either to gain user base and it rather seemed to be crumbling. Hotmail PR team even went berserk with desperate attempts to the extent of dumb ads bashing Gmail. Now Microsoft seems to have finally conceded defeat and is instead modelling its business model very similar to Gmail embracing personalised advertisements within the mail along with a much cleaner (and superior) interface.
- Complete Interface revamp with a Metro inspired webmail.
- Easy social integration with Facebook and Twitter for getting updates directly to your inbox.
- Business Centric: Office Share and collaboration with the ability to open and edit docs with office web-apps.
- Much easier mail navigation thanks to Quick Views and added Social Filters
- New Advertisement Model: Contextual ads like in Gmail replacing Hotmail’s static ads policy.
Though Microsoft is very specific about the new personalised ads, telling that the ads displayed will be merely based on the subject of the mail and the senders of the email unlike Gmail where advertisements are served based on the actual contents of the email. Well done MS.
Outlook.com: It’s Gorgeous
Microsoft has finally got its act together and has pulled off an extremely clean and intuitive interface for Webmail which is light years ahead of its unpopular predecessor. It even trumps Gmail in many areas such as a social media integration, and the management of screen space. For example, you can have a reading pane at the right or bottom to quickly see your mail contents.
The filters present by default are pretty handy especially the Social updates, so you do not have to worry about your inbox getting cluttered with Facebook and Google+ updates missing something important.
Facebook chat integration is an ace in the hole, letting you seamlessly converse with your friends while checking your inbox apart from the regular live messenger contacts. What I personally feel the biggest strength of outlook is the introduction of the new People address book which is exactly along the lines of People Metro app in Windows 8. The key here is unification of all your contacts under a single hub unlike GTalk.
Quick Views on the other hand offer a clean and fast way to access emails with photos and documents as attachments. However mind that Quick Views is not limited to emails with attachment and lets you create your own custom quick views
Outlook also packs in some really solid spam and junk filtering with additional range of tools like Report Phishing Scam and My Friend’s been hacked along with regular spam filtering. If your inbox is piling up with unwanted newsletters Outlook lets you schedule automatic cleanups by deleting older messages as per your set timings. You can also unsubscribe from the newsletters just like in Gmail as well.
Lastly the email writing interface is just brilliant. This one just made me WOW. The new interface features extremely well arranged tools and buttons, giving you basically everything for composing emails, without any clutter at all. Overall the Metro inspired interface looks very refreshing and is a joy to work with. When it comes to customisation, there are no themes yet, but you can choose from a dozen colors for your Inbox Outlook.com will easily attract a large following within a very short span of time.
Go Get It
The service is already online by the time you are reading this. Just head over to Outlook.com to sign up and get a brand new ID. Because the domain is extremely new you might be just able to get an ID of your choice pretty easily. Existing Hotmail users are redirected to the new interface by default with the existing address.