Today Microsoft announced a preview of Outlook.com, the successor to Hotmail on the web, some of what we’ve shown you already as “NewMail”. With Outlook.com, Microsoft is in one fell swoop modernizing webmail, providing a new marketing engine for noteworthy but perhaps unappreciated features such as Sweep and Categories, and continuing the trend of consolidating brands and putting Office back in the center of the experience.
For too long, Microsoft has, although with good intentions at the time, offered up a number of services to a rapidly changing online environment that had the unintended consequences of diluting a number of Microsoft brands. With Outlook.com, your mail is in Outlook (not Windows Live Mail or Hotmail), it has a consistent look with the rest of Microsoft’s Metro makeover, and it’s connected to your desktop via Exchange ActiveSync, not DeltaSync or POP or whatever.
In a blog post today on the Outlook blog of all places, Corporate Vice President Chris Jones introduces Outlook.com and the post outlines Outlook.com’s major features, summarized here:
- Modern experience for modern browsers and devices: A fresh, clean user interface that’s intuitive to use, works across your devices with Exchange ActiveSync, and gets the clutter out of your way with 60% fewer pixels in the header and 30% more messages visible in your inbox. Plus no display ads or large search boxes that take up that extra space.
- Connected to friends and co-workers, wherever they are: Outlook.com preview is connected to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and soon, Skype. You can view pictures of your friends, messages, status updates, chats, calls – all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is similarly connected to those networks.
- Smart and Powerful: Outlook.com automatically sorts your messages from contacts, newsletters, shipping updates, and social updates, and with sweep you can move or delete them in a few clicks. Plus, the service includes free Office Web Apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, as well as SkyDrive.
- Puts you in control: Keeps your personal mail personal (no ads in person-to-person mails and no scanning your personal mail to serve ads), and has great tools for power users
It looks like the race is on for new Outlook.com email addresses, we just tried to create a new account and were stopped by the Captcha, which would not take our input even though it was correct, probably under some pressure! You can try out the new Hotmail NewMail Outlook.com by going to www.Outlook.com and either creating a new account or logging in to your existing Hotmail account (we also had a bit of trouble here trying to get our “Custom Domains” @liveside.net, which is essentially a Hotmail account, account to switch over, but expect there to be a few glitches as this is going to be one popular service!)