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Microsoft Takes on Gmail with New Outlook.com Webmail

Microsoft is moving on from Hotmail. The Redmond, Washington-based company today unveiled a new email service it's calling Outlook.com. Named after Outlook desktop mail application, the company says Outlook.com is 'modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes.'

The first thing Microsoft tried to cut back on is clutter. To that end, "the header has 60% fewer pixels and there are 30% more messages visible in your inbox that the webmail most people are used to." In addition to this, the are no display ads to take up extra space and Outlook.com uses Exchange ActiveSync, powering your mail, calendar and people on your smartphone, tablet and Outlook 2013 Preview.

 

To target the group of people using social networks to stay connected, Microsoft's Outlook.com connects to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and soon, Skype. This will mean a much more personal inbox, and we're not just talking about importing contacts. According to Redmond, you'll see photos of your friends, recent status updates and tweets that have been shared with you, and the ability to IM and video chat with people on your contact list. Though this almost sounds like the opposite of Microsoft's effort to reduce clutter, the software giant says users can control what they share, the networks they connect to and their personal information.

 

"We let you decide whether to connect your account to social networks, and which ones you want to use - and you're in control of who you friend or follow," the company said. "And, if you're a power user who wants to really fine tune your inbox, we let you create your own categories, folders, and rules to tailor Outlook.com to your preferences."

In terms of actual email, you can view and edit attachments without leaving your inbox (thanks to Office Web Apps) and SkyDrive is there for sharing big attachments and photos. Outlook will also sort your email for you, separating out contacts, newsletters, social updates, and shipping updates. You can, as mentioned above, also set up rules for moving and deleting messages. 

Lastly, Microsoft is promising spam and account protection, as well as a heightened level of control when it comes to what the company shares about you. Redmond says it won't scan your email content or attachments and sell information to advertisers or any other company. It also won't show you ads in personal conversations. 

Outlook.com is available to try out now. If you already have a Hotmail account, you can upgrade to Outlook.com through that account, or you can sign up with a new account directly through Outlook.com.

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  • memadmax
    Tried it.
    It's meh...

    I think they stripped TOO much out of it LOL.

    The blue and white scheme makes it seem like its just empty... sad... like you want to tell it a joke to cheer it up, or give it a back rub or something....
    Reply
  • spookyman
    Hotmail was a great email service till Microsoft bought them. Ever since then its nothing but spam bot.
    Reply
  • 11796pcs
    I know I'm just going to hear a bunch of Microsoft hate from everyone on this site, but I actually think that the new Outlook.com looks like a good product. It has a good UI and no picture ads. And if Microsoft delivers on its promise to cut back on spam, then the service could be a winner. It looks like something that could actually compete with Gmail and looks eons better than Yahoo! Mail. Time will tell if Microsoft markets the service and keeps releasing useful features for it or if they let it die in the dirt.
    Reply
  • kawininjazx
    Can I import my pst file?
    Reply
  • rebel1280
    This is awesome! I love the layout :) Clean and simple and to kawininjazx, that is an excellent question but its not a client so im going to assume no unless you buy Outlook outright. Been thinking of merging all my emails into one and this would be a great time to do it.
    Reply
  • fayzaan
    You rock Microsoft!! I like it, at least I can use msn at work now hahahahah MUAHAHAHAH!!!
    Reply
  • jaquith
    Well I just created a new account to match my: Hotmail, MSN & Live accounts. It has the look of new Office 2013 (365) which I'm still up in the air over.

    In our office we're still only using Office 2007, I found no good reason to upgrade and I'm wondering if I'll feel the same with Office 2013. Simple is good from an eye candy point of view but often productivity can suffer if you're constantly hunting around in menus.

    Windows 8 and Office 2013/365 is going to be a hard move to those who are entrenched in the prior UI's.
    Reply
  • phamhlam
    kawininjazxCan I import my pst file?
    This is a web mail service. It is not an outlook type program.
    Reply
  • drwho1
    I'm using Windows Live Mail, and I have 2 Hotmail email accounts.
    Does this mean that they are going to change to "Outlook" accounts, or will Hotmail stay?

    If so, can I still use Windows Live Mail?
    I hate to go to Hotmail.com and I know I wouldn't like to go to this Outlook.com either...
    specially with all this add ons, I like my email to be simple.

    Just that, email.
    Reply
  • rantoc
    phamhlamThis is a web mail service. It is not an outlook type program.
    Web or not - Still no reason why it should not be possible if they wanted to add import tools in order to make migration easier and attract more customers. The security concerns when importing user uploaded data files to a database is another matter!
    Reply