Hotmail is no more! The world’s first webmail service that was launched in 1996 and acquired by Microsoft is being phased out as Microsoft inches closer to launching its next generation Windows 8 platform. The Redmond-based software giant today announced a preview of Outlook.com, which is essentially the latest generation of Hotmail with Metro UI and social integration. It is a smart move by Microsoft to club its native Outlook email client on PCs with the webmail service from a branding point of view and at the same time adding some much-needed features to take on rivals, especially Gmail. Read on to find out what’s new. Also Read - Microsoft Office 365 web-based e-mail is leaking out IP addresses in e-mails
The biggest change in Outlook.com is the user interface, which follows the design direction put forth by the Metro UI guidelines. The screen is divided into three colums – search, folders and other action elements on the left; the message copy in the center and a people column on the right that shows the latest updates, IM exchanges and other details. Microsoft claims this is the first email service to integrate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and eventually Skype. Users will soon be able to make Skype calls directly from Outlook. And yes, threaded email is activated by default. Also Read - Microsoft just teased dark mode for Outlook.com
The biggest feature update, and the one I believe most users have been asking for a while, is the addition of Office Web Apps – Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote – to open attachments, edit them on the fly and send them back as email. The inability to do so has been a major pet peeve for most email users. It also offers SkyDrive support so users can upload heavy attachments to the cloud service without worrying about attachment size limits.
Microsoft is also introducing better spam controls that can differentiate between important emails, newsletters, shipping updates and junk mail and place them where they belong. Taking a shot at Google, Microsoft says it doesn’t scan mails or attachments to serve ads in mails. “Email is private and confidential, and most folks we’ve talked to want to keep it that way. So we keep your personal email personal. We don’t scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company, and we don’t show ads in personal conversations,” says Chris Jones, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows Live.
Existing Hotmail users can simply upgrade to Outlook.com by selecting the upgrade option from their Hotmail settings. They have the option to retain their same account id with @outlook.com or get a new alias. Others can go to Outlook..com and create a new account.