Microsoft on Tuesday launched the preview of Outlook.com, a new Web e-mail service touted as designed for "the next billion mailboxes".
Partially a marketing exercise to create a new brand unencumbered by the established but old Hotmail, the Microsoft team was able to put 15 years of experience running and tweaking Hotmail into building a new Web mail system built from the ground up.
This is significant as Microsoft is loosened from the restrictions and kludge of what must be an ancient codebase. Starting from a completely clean slate, the company can focus on incorporating the best tried-and-tested features and tailored for the latest browsers.
Following in Gmail's footsteps, one of Outlook.com's features include a minimalist aesthetic that has 60 percent fewer pixels in the header, with 30 percent more messages visible in the inbox from the Webmail client. Perhaps more importantly, the service has no display advertisement while the search box is aligned to the left to further reduce space wastage.
Another feature that caught my attention was the full support for Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) found on Outlook.com. Previously, Android smartphone users who want to sync or back up their contact information with a cloud service will in all likelihood choose Gmail devices. Unfortunately, the ability to sync contact data with Gmail is conspicuously absent on the iOS platform.
The launch of iCloud filled this gap, but left the backup data inaccessible from non-iOS mobile platforms and the PC.
With its launch, Outlook.com has now become an alternative destination with which to sync contact information--and one that also sports a modern Webmail interface.
You can read more about Outlook.com here.