Microsoft revamps webmail with Outlook.com

Goodbye Hotmail, hello Outlook.com. Microsoft has launched a preview of its new web-based e-mail service, and it looks… surprisingly not-awful. Microsoft has streamlined the interface extensively and applied a fresh coat of Metro paint, so that nothing of the old service seems to remain. The result feels like a breath of fresh air.

Microsoft’s promo video takes on Gmail and highlights some of Outlook.com’s key features, like Skype integration and a fancy photo gallery. It’s a little unsettling to see Microsoft advocating simplicity in design, but I think I like it:

Another, longer video offers a more complete walkthrough of Outlook.com’s various features. Take a look:

You can give the new service a try yourself by heading to Outlook.com and signing in with your Windows Live or Hotmail credentials. All your old Hotmail messages should be waiting for you. Oh, and don’t worry; you can go back to the old interface anytime by going through the gear menu in the upper right.

I’m still not ready to give up on Gmail and its excellent Priority Inbox system, but Outlook.com definitely seems like a compelling alternative. I like the clean interface, the slick Metro animations, the fact that the ads don’t scan your personal messages, and the way it interfaces with existing social networks instead of shoving Google+ down your throat. The smart filtering that can identify newsletters, social network notices, shipping updates, and so forth looks pretty slick, as well. If I had one complaint, it would be that the interface seems a little bland. Outlook.com still feels like it’s leagues ahead of the old Hotmail, though.

Comments closed
    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 7 years ago

    Probably will wipe whatever hotmail addresses I still have after this. If it weren’t for yahoo groups I would have fled that horrible service years ago.

    I don’t think anyone outside of Google has gotten this right. Plus the excessive connectivity of always on social networking strikes my middle-aged self as a plague.

    Rewatching the second video it’s not as bad as I first thought – some of the personalization options are decent. I still am not thrilled about the UI and I doubt very much that it’s any real threat to Gmail.

    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    A less biased and more balanced read (and more detailed)

    [url<]http://allthingsd.com/20120731/is-hotmail-hotter-now-that-its-outlook-com/[/url<]

    • boing
    • 7 years ago

    Anyone else using Opera that can’t get the site to function? I’m using Opera 12 with hardware acceleration enabled.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      yeah, it’s not opera friendly. neither was hotmail. it would work, but not nicely.

        • boing
        • 7 years ago

        Just updated to 12.01, still no luck.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      whoa double post

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    Every time they have updated hotmail over the past few years it seems to have gotten slower and buggier. Right now it’s pretty terrible with buttons that stop working, hard drive grinding for no reason, messages not being able to be sent to legal email addresses, etc etc etc.

    The outlook version is MS’s latest update to their online email…..but I suppose it can’t be too much worse.

    • Hattig
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve been using Gmail since forever, but I thought I’d take a look at this, and it’s pretty good. Clean UI, decent use of a widescreen monitor with the three column view, etc.

    It’s not perfect – I like Gmail’s multiple coloured stars/etc (might be a Google labs thing), and labels especially, and the priority inbox works very nicely too. However the Gmail UI isn’t so clean – there’s especially clutter on the left hand side.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I was about to say my what a lovely bland pastel shade of metro they swathed that with. Gmail has better contrast.

    • Wirko
    • 7 years ago

    It’s funny that both Hotmail and Outlook login screens look so Metro-like in Firefox 14 and even 3.6 … but so XP-like in IE 8.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    You realize that both outlook.com and hotmail.com are tied to live.com?

      • Malphas
      • 7 years ago

      Tied how? They’re killing off the Live brand, so presumably any “ties” are going to be a temporary as part of the overall transition Microsoft is making in streamlining their various services.

      • Rand
      • 7 years ago

      Their both the email service end of your Microsoft Account. Live.com is dying, and with it hotmail will die too as those accounts are transitioned to the outlook.com service.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 7 years ago

    I use Gmail for personal, hotmail/outlook for job hunting-business, Microsoft’s free 25GB SkyDrive for essential backup and Google’s free 5GB Drive as secondary backup…so far it’s a pretty good system.

    I was just thinking this week what if we all had to pay for an email address and monthly service?

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I see nothing compelling over Gmail for my usage. All that talk about ads does not affect a user who does not see ads.

    • Madman
    • 7 years ago

    Looks clean, but I still prefer Thunderbird with complete control over my data via POP based email, and capability to share the email on multiple devices with different operating systems.

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      Why POP? Why can’t you just host an IMAP server for your own e-mail?

        • UberGerbil
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, if sharing mail across multiple devices is a priority, IMAP is far superior to POP. (I can’t count the number of times having a single “Sent” folder to search has saved me time and aggravation)

          • ColdMist
          • 7 years ago

          And having a separate POP backup copy of my gmail inbox saved my bacon when a gmail mail filter deleted all of my mail once.

          I’m never keeping all of my eggs in the same basket again.

          gmail/imap for the phone and such sure, but my desktop has a Thunderbird POP backup.

          ‘nuf said.

          • Madman
          • 7 years ago

          Thunderbird shares the whole profile, including sent folders and address books.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Personally my email notifier doesn’t identify if I’ve read messages in thunderbird if the server is pop. It bugs the living daylights out of me too.

      • eitje
      • 7 years ago

      outlook.com appears to support POP.

    • sparechange
    • 7 years ago

    and gave me all the stuff i need from my isp bell excellent

    • sparechange
    • 7 years ago

    just built a new computer, xp to win 7 no outlook express that ive had for 10 yrs. what to do, got g mail then saw this report downloaded it and wala all my e mails from two weeks appeared no pop setup or any thing- had 360 live sign in— still wow^^^^

      • UberGerbil
      • 7 years ago

      If you want the win7 equivalent of the outlook express client it’s part of the [url=http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-live/essentials-home<]Windows Live Essentials[/url<], but some folks would suggest you try Thunderbird instead.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        but they killed thunderbird. 🙁 yes, it does a TON, and pretty much all you’d ever need, but i’m sadden that they’ve stopped innovating that product. it’s miles better then outlook was, but i’m sad they killed it.

    • omnomdinosaurs
    • 7 years ago

    I have the same problem with this new web interface as I had with the Win 8 Metro Mail application (tried in the first public Consumer Preview).

    It wont let my “collapse” all my folders in the pane on the left hand side. In my main email account (A live/hotmail account) I have lots of folders. I normally use the Live Mail desktop application to view my 4 email accounts and have all the folders “collapsed” so I can see all 4 accounts on the left hand pane.

    In this new Metro style though, all my folders are “Expanded” and so one single account takes out all my vertical screen space instead of letting me view 4 accounts at once 🙁

    It seems so simple to me to allow collapsing of the folders, why can’t I do it?

    • mcnabney
    • 7 years ago

    Don’t see any improvement over Gmail. Grabbed my name, surname and a goofy alias, just in case. I’ll probably use it for some non-urgent correspondence that I don’t necessarily want using my regular email address (craigslist).

    • glacius555
    • 7 years ago

    Hmm.. I wish they added a labeling system, like Gmail. Else, looks good!

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    Chugga Chugga Wheeew Wheeew, the Windows 8 hype machine is rolllling the rest of the summer and into the fall!

    Unfortunately it’s 2am and no one wants to hear a GD train right now.

    • bjm
    • 7 years ago

    For the past few years, I’ve kept an active Hotmail/Live.com account to keep up to speed on the numerous changes they have been making. Though I’m still primarily using Gmail at this point, Outlook.com just might be the tipping point for me to completely move over. Google Voice is still a killer feature for me though, as is their free SMS that is included with it. With Skype, that just might change.

    It’s also about time they retire the Hotmail brand as well, IMO. I know of lots of folks who simply associated Hotmail as a spam-bucket they use. And even though MS purchased Hotmail only a few years after its birth, I never truly associated the brand with MS. I guess the same could be said for Skype, but at least it had a more positive reputation than did Hotmail at the time.

    Outlook, on the other hand, is heavily associated with Microsoft. It sounds far better to me compared to Hotmail. Can’t speak for others though… whether it’s connotation is a good or bad one depends heavily on who you ask.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve been an active hotmail/msn user so I’ve seen many of the changes that has been made to hotmail over the years, the skydrive/office integration and I must say, they’ve been very good. I just logged into outlook.com and all my emails are there. I haven’t had a chance to play around yet (food = priority), but looks good.

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