Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on Hotmail and introduced a preview version of Outlook.com, a new email service which promises users a cleaner user interface, very much like Google’s Gmail. And yes it comes with the compulsory social media integration to services such as Facebook and Twitter.
So, we can say that Hotmail is no longer the ‘hottest’ email service in the town, Microsoft has decided to radically overhaul the most successful email service in the world. Goodbye Hotmail.com; say hello to Outlook.com.
Over the next few months, a growing number of Hotmail users will be invited to test out a new Web-based email service called “Outlook,” named after Microsoft’s other popular email brand.
Microsoft has owned Hotmail since 1997, back in the Jurassic era of the commercial Internet. That’s part of its problem.
Whether it’s fair or not, Hotmail is perceived as your parents’ — or maybe your grandparents’ — e-mail service. Like an AOL account, the brand is associated with people who couldn’t find the motivation to change to a more modern service like Google’s Gmail or Yahoo Mail. Although Hotmail still has more users worldwide than any of its competitors, the service has fallen into third place behind Yahoo and Gmail.
It’s a sign of how low perception of the Hotmail brand has fallen that Microsoft feels the need to replace it entirely rather than renovate its existing service. The Outlook name has wide recognition, especially among professionals, and many people depend on it for their work. Now Microsoft will see if it can make Outlook.com a habit outside the office.
Key features of Outlook.com
• Cloud sync: Outlook is cloud friendly and promises that all your email will be available wherever you are. Its linked to your calendar as well. The good thing is that it comes with SkyDrive, so for users sending photos and documents, size is no longer a problem. SkyDrive will ensure that attachment worries are a thing of the past.
• New interface: Microsoft has gone for a cleaner interface. It looks suspiciously similar to Gmail but a change nonetheless. It also promises user that 30 percent more messages will be visible in your Inbox than other services. Yes its one long scroll down in Outlook.com
• Social networks: Outlook.com is touted as the first email service connected to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and soon, Skype. Recent status updates,Tweets, the ability to chat and video calls are all promised.
• Some apps: Microsoft is also offering free Office Web Apps such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote which means you can edit the doc from your inbox.
Will it be enough to trump Gmail? That remains to be seen.