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.