Goodbye, Hotmail. Hello, Outlook.com

Goodbye, Hotmail. Hello, Outlook.com

Summary: Microsoft's flagship mail service for consumers gets a new name and a "modern" Metro-style interface. Here's how to sign up for a preview and what to expect.

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So long, Hotmail. It was nice to know you.

Microsoft unveiled a major update to its consumer mail platform today, with a new look, a slew of new features, and a new name that is surprisingly familiar.

eb-newmail-outlook-logo

The “modern email” service has been in super stealth mode for several months under the codename NewMail. With its formal launch as an open-to-the-public preview, the service gets a new name: Outlook.com. I’ve been using the NewMail beta for a week now and can share some first impressions here.

Outlook, of course, is the serious, business-focused mail client included with Office. Microsoft used the brand with Outlook Express, its lightweight email client in Windows XP, but dumped the name with the launch of Windows Vista in 2006.

Restoring the Outlook name to Microsoft’s consumer email service accomplishes two goals. First, it dumps the Hotmail brand, which is tarnished beyond redemption, especially among technically sophisticated users who have embraced Google’s Gmail as the default standard for webmail. More importantly, it replaces the Hotmail domain with a fresh top-level domain that’s serious enough for business use.

(If you have an existing Hotmail.com or Live.com address, you can continue to use it with the new Outlook interface. But new addresses in the Outlook.com domain are up for grabs. if you have a common name, I recommend that you get yourself over to Outlook.com now to claim your preferred email address while it’s still available.)

The Outlook.com preview will run alongside Hotmail for now, but when the preview ends, this will be the replacement for all Hotmail and Live Mail users.

With Outlook.com, Microsoft is taking dead aim at Gmail, positioning Google’s flagship service as the old and tired player that is ready for retirement. Gmail, they point out, is eight years old, and its interface and feature set aren’t exactly modern. It doesn’t play well with any social media except its own, it handles attachments in a stodgy and traditional way, and it’s not particularly elegant when it comes to managing the deluge of email we all have to deal with every day.

So what’s new about NewMail—sorry, Outlook.com? And why would anyone consider switching from Gmail?

The most obvious change in the web interface, of course, is the overall design, which gets the full Metro treatment.

eb-new-outlook-three-panes-620

That three-pane layout follows the familiar Outlook standard, but the typography is definitely new. It’s clean and crisp with no wasted ornamentation or clutter. It should come as no surprise that the default organization is optimized for use on touch-enabled devices.

A pane on the right shows different content, depending on the context. If you're communicating with a friend of colleague who's in your address book or connected via a social-media service, you'll see updates about that person on the right side, with the option to chat with them (via Messenger or Facebook chat) in that pane. In a demo, Microsoft showed off Skype integration and said it will be coming later in the preview.

If you've selected no message, the right pane might show ads, which appear in Metro style boxes with text--an image preview appears if you hover over the ad. As part of its positioning against Google, Microsoft has taken pains to note that your messages aren't scanned to provide context-sensitive ads, as they are with Gmail.

This is a pure HTML interface, which means the functionality is consistent across different browsers and on alternative platforms. I tested NewMail on a Mac using Safari and Chrome and in both Firefox and Chrome on several Windows PCs. Everything worked as expected. I also tested the web-based interface in mobile Safari on an iPad, where it also displayed perfectly (after switching from the default mobile layout).

On mobile devices, you’ll be able to use native apps. An app for iOS devices should be available immediately. Microsoft promises an Android app “soon” that will enable Exchange ActiveSync support for older Android versions.

A few pieces of the web-based UI are worth calling out separately. You'll find screenshots and details on the next page.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Software

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151 comments
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    • Newsworthy?

      Stay at the bakery and stick with your AOL.
      BigJohnLg
  • I didn't even know Hot Mail was still around.......

    If it is only Loverock Davidson uses it
    Over and Out
    • Um no. hotmail has more users than gmail or yahoo mail

      just fyi. google has been trying to inflate their numbers the last 6 months by trying to start counting all the android non users as users but no ones fooled by it. active users hotmail is still bigger.
      Johnny Vegas
      • Um no. hotmail has more SPAM BOTS than gmail or yahoo mail

        Fixed the subject title on your post for you.

        Hotmail is a cesspool for accounts used to send spam, which Microsoft undoubtedly counts as "active users".
        snu221
        • Because we all know that gmail and yahoomail are spambot free

          Sources please, or don't even bother
          milo ducillo
          • Ok

            http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Hotmail

            http://www.totaljobs.com/JobSeeking/Technical-Telesales---Electronic-Security_job54197389

            ""Important - Certain ISPs (Hotmail is the worst) will block business users and treat them as junk/spam."

            http://www.theinternetpatrol.com/hotmail-outage-as-server-goes-down-users-unable-to-access-email/

            http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/hotmailcom-c507365.html

            Being the total slave fanbui that you are, I have no doubt you'll find fault with these.
            CaviarBlack
          • Um, what did that prove?

            I love Black people and all (I'm not Black), but the links you provided were links about how Hotmail's security was weak, and how it's spam protection is weak. But milo ducillo was talking about Yahoo and Gmail specifically and he/she impied that they are not "spambot free" (though milo ducillo did not say it directly, commen sense tells us he implied it). The links you provided *Did Not* prove that Yahoo or Gmail are "spambot free". They merely were criticizing Hotmail and it's services. Before you responded, you should have heeded the word *free*, because no e-mail service is *100%* free. I myself have a Gmail account (for Youtube mostly) and I find quite a few replies on Youtube (from different people) in the spam folder when they're not supposed to be. But other than that, Gmail's spam protection is pretty good. BUT, I have had a Hotmail account about 1 year before I had a Gmail one and I have had NO spam. Why? I actually use Hotmail's spam filter "features". And yes you are right, I am using Windows and I have never got a virus on this computer too. Thank you, come again.
            Jabe124
          • Forget the stuff about the Black People

            It was late at night, I wasn't thinking straight. I hope I didn't screw the hole comment up.
            Jabe124
          • Edit

            I meant no e-mail service provider is 100% spam free. Even people have had some spam problems with Gmail despite it having good spam protection.
            Jabe124
        • Hmmmm

          Actually most spam I get is from Yahoo as Yahoo is making it harder to complain about a spammer unless you have a Yahoo account and the spam was sent there.
          Gisabun
      • I have 3 web-accessible email accounts...

        ... and not one of them is Hotmail. The author is perfectly correct that Hotmail's reputation is totally shot; it's more known for all the spambots, phishing schemes and simple hacked/stolen accounts than it is for reliable service despite its years in use. Personally I'd gotten to the point of setting a rule blocking all hotmail accounts because I never received ANY legitimate mail through it.

        The name and style change is obviously necessary given that reputation.
        Vulpinemac
        • hotmail

          I've been using Hotmail for many years. Not a prob.
          olcro_2000@...
        • Hotmail

          I have been using hotmail since 1995 and never had a problem with it. The only way someone sneaks on your putor is because you left the door open.
          rowhoe@...
      • And more

        You create an account on Youtube [for example] and they automatically create an account on Gmail, Google+ and others whether or not you asked [unless this has changed recently].
        Gisabun
        • One login for Google sites

          Because now Google+, YouTube; Piscia; et al is owned by Google, you can log into those sites without having to create a seperate account for each site. Which is handy.

          And I just realized this post I replying to is almost a year old... :/ At least it can be helpful...
          JustinCredible007
      • gmail

        Gmail is much better
        kailash.vyas-24735558909922163793932460048163
    • hotmail and live accounts are more safe than gmail

      I have 2 msn accounts from which first one is a 12 year old hotmail address which I use to IM with friends, another is a live.com account I opened 1 year ago to manage subscribe information from netflix and other online services.
      I had gmail account before and I liked the interface, but when I saw Google Street view cars stoling email addresses, passwords and other private information from un-secured Wi-Fi sopts I canceled my gmail account. Today I trust hotmail and live.com accounts only.
      Gabriel Hernandez
      • Am I Missing Something, Gabriel?

        How does the existence of Google Street View make Hotmail accounts safer than gmail? I don't see anything that supports your assertions.
        bkshort@...
        • Well

          Microsoft sells products, Windows, Office, SQL, Exchange.....etc. Hotmail being free is supported by money made by those other products.

          Google gives away all of its so called "products" for free. These "products" are really just tools to harvest YOUR INFORATION...........which is the real Google product.
          JeveSobs
          • JeveSobs ....So are you saying Google harvests your information ......

            If that is correct.......... than you should add to your post that Microsoft harvest all the rest ........like Malware, Spam and Viruses to be fair, wouldn't you say ?
            Over and Out