Microsoft introduces online tool for Gmail switchers

Microsoft introduces online tool for Gmail switchers

Summary: A year after its rebranding of Hotmail as Outlook.com, Microsoft is taking aim at Gmail users with a new online service that simplifies the process of switching.

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Microsoft rebooted its aging Hotmail franchise a year ago, giving it a new name, Outlook.com, as well as a spiffy new interface and all the bells and whistles you expect from a modern free email service.

As in so many other areas, Microsoft’s chief rival is a Google service: Outlook.com competes directly with Gmail, and the two services each have hundreds of millions of subscribers. Part of the goal of introducing Outlook.com was to lure back former Hotmail subscribers who had switched to Gmail since its launch almost a decade ago.

The trouble with switching email providers is that the process is technically daunting, especially for consumers whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of acronyms like POP and IMAP. You’ll find the gory details in this post: How I switched from Gmail to Outlook.com (and how you can too).

That’s the impetus behind Microsoft’s introduction today of an online service designed to make it easier to migrate from Gmail to Outlook.com. The service allows you to set up an Outlook.com account, connect it to an existing Gmail account using the secure OAuth protocol, then copy existing messages from Gmail to Outlook.com.

gmail-switcher1

The automated setup process works in the background, on Microsoft's servers, and it's smart enough to migrate new messages first and maintain the read/unread status for anything in your inbox or in folders.

The final step is the only one that requires manual intervention, with the user following Microsoft’s instructions to set up auto-forwarding of new messages sent to the Gmail account.

Although the new service debuts today, its worldwide rollout will be staggered, so it might take a few days before you see it in the Outlook.com dashboard.

Today’s announcement doesn’t include any updates to the Windows Live Domains tool, which you can use to attach a custom domain to an Outlook.com account. (If you need instructions on how to make that happen, see Why I use Outlook.com for my custom email accounts (and how you can too).)

There’s also no easy switching tool available for frustrated Yahoo Mail users, who have suffered a double whammy lately, with a disastrous overhaul of the back end and user interface, as well as an ongoing outage that started yesterday and is still not resolved.

I'll have a more detailed look at how the new online switching tool works as soon as it's live, along with some tips for making better use of an Outlook.com account.

Topics: Microsoft, Google Apps

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36 comments
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  • Gmail has got to change

    I was a long time Gmail user but Outlook is so much better. Better email formatting, better contacts and calendar, great navigation. I predict Google is going to revamp Gmail next year. If not, make the switch to Outlook.
    Sean Foley
  • just what I needed

    Thanks, Ed! I followed the instructions in your other document, but this is much much easier.

    I'm starting to think the Scroogled campaign was not such a disastrous idea.
    mtalinm
    • worked

      well i'm pretty pleased. kicked off the migration from my phone, and it seems to have run well. pulled Gmail from my win8 account and replaced with outlook.com + set up with my old gmail address (can't get as good of an address @outlook.com, oddly).

      very happy for a first-dya experience. we'll see how it wears with time.
      mtalinm
  • Microsoft introduces online tool for Gmail switchers

    Thank goodness this tool is out. More than a few people have mentioned to me how disorganized gmail is. I told them to go to Microsoft's outlook.com because it has folders, better layout, and some other features but they didn't want to lose email. Now I can show them how easy it will be to migrate to it.
    Loverock.Davidson
  • Ha. No thanks

    “You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig.”

    I gave up hotmail a long time ago for gmail and I've been happy ever since, though I do still use it for junk mail. Microsoft is just trying to catch up to a game they lost a while back.
    DRich12
    • Good!

      Stick with "your pig" Gmail. That's fine, but don't try and compare hotmail with outlook.com, they are different. Of course since you haven't used outlook.com, why would I think you had any idea of what you are talking about. Yet someone else on here chiming in with ZERO experience attempting to badmouth a 17 year old product and compare it to a new product. What a joke. Just because they included some of the hotmail features into outlook.com, doesn't mean its a dressed up pig of hotmail. They revammped the entire product and if you compare it to Gmail it is currently far superior. But again since you have no experience with the new outlook.com, you'd rather compare Gmail to the 17 year old hotmail - because that's all you know.
      BruinB88
    • I used a Mac in 1998 and it was awful

      "I used a Mac in 1998 and it was awful. Therefore I will never use a Mac again."

      Things change, you know.

      I certainly understand that some people will prefer Gmail, but trashing a competitive product without even looking at it is just ignorant.
      Ed Bott
      • Agreed.

        "Things change, you know."

        "trashing a competitive product without even looking at it is just ignorant."

        Agreed.
        CobraA1
      • Nothing like trying it, for sure

        But let's not forget history.
        I was just reading about how amazing hotmail was (http://blogs.windows.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2010/01/06/a-short-history-of-hotmail.aspx). The reality is that Google is famous for discontinue products that are not massively used, MS is famous for disrupting technology that a lot of people rely on. DAO, RDO; ADO, .NET, Silverlight, "old" VB,... also hotmail ended in a way that was not so transparent for users.
        I use gmail for a long time, and it's just there, sometimes there might be an update I don't like that much, but most of the times it just works as I'm expecting.
        I've tried outlook.com and I was not impressed - I use Opera browser for different platforms and that can be part of the problem though.
        AleMartin
        • Most of the technologies you listed ...

          ... are still supported and work just fine. Even the VB6 runtime is still supported in Win8.1 and .Net is still Microsoft's primary productive app site and service platform.

          While YOU may like Gmail, and may not have found anything you like in Outlook.com, many of us MUCH prefer Outlook.com's clean UI, great performance and features and enjoy the fact that Microsoft isn't playing games with users' ability to access their services. Unlike Google.
          bitcrazed
          • Would you use does techs for a new project?!

            There is a lot to like at outlook.com but I'm not impressed.
            Even advertising is more intrusive, while I barely notice ads on gmail, it's impossible not to look at facebook and Twitter reference on outlook, there is also ads for other MS products.
            The support for different platforms can be also questionable, while in recent times we have seen MS doing things for non windows platforms and in some cases they even support more OSes than competitors, I wonder if the future will be like that.
            Google is the synonymous of search, and with the recent yahoo failures they are probably in the best position to win cloud email - the future will tell.
            As a consumers and being unrelated with any of those companies I like competition.
            AleMartin
      • Mac...

        I used a Mac last week, and it was still awful... :)
        Narg
      • Things change?

        Not really - as someone with multiple hotmail (for years) and outllok.com accounts, the most important thing for email reliable delivery and hotmail/outlook sucks at that: all of the sudden legitimate email list emails would be silently dropped (happened to samba mailing list on my hotmail account - just stopped receving one day) - not dropped to "Junk", dropped period. Yet spam somehow gets to my inbox.
        That doesn't happen to Gmail or even Yahoo.
        Still - MS enabled IMAP on hotmail/outllok.com accounts. A plus, even if IMAP performance (in windows live mail at least) is very slow...
        vgrig
    • Didn't mean to flag - sorry

      How can one unflag? Too easy to accidentally flag when scrolling on my iPhone.
      Luke Skywalker
    • sorry but not true

      both Gmail and Hotmail changed a lot over the period, Outlook definitely got some advantages over gmail. I use both all the time.
      Mac_Win
  • Nice!

    This is precisely what I have been waiting for!!! Can't wait for the option to show up!
    crystalsoldier
  • Outlook Hotmail

    Outlook, MSN, Hotmail, Live... Whatever you want to call it, it is a much better product than Gmail. I have both but I use my MSN address on outlook.com much more than the gmail address. Gmail is very confusing and disorganize... I love outlook sweep feature a lot. I have a few docs on Google Docs and I understand how to use if a bit more than I know Skydrive currently. Outlook is the better mail service for sure. I know some of you are Microsoft haters but without Microsoft the world would have been a worst place. I use Google Maps much more than I use Bing Maps and I think Google Maps is somewhat better but Bing Maps has a really nice App and they are improving very fast. So "Man-Up" and give Microsoft some credit for once.
    deeaglex
  • mail

    I have three email accounts for personal mail. GMail (hardly ever looked at or used, it came with the phone), Hotmail/outlook--I have had this account ever since I had email, and an ATT/SBC Yahoo account as ATT is my ISP. Outlook has the best spam filters, i can block most of my junk mail, whereas I log into ATTYahoo, I will find hundreds of spam mail messages. If it weren't with the ISP, I would drop it. I can't remember whether Outlook will let you send large files or not, I know Gmail does. Many times I will bring my Yahoo mail into Outlook from MsOffice onto my desktop to allow for saving the contents, as a long time Hotmail user I believe I am still grandfathered into the capability to do the same with it, I haven't tried. In the old dialup days we used to have email addresses with our service, but they have all gone away and so have the email addresses. We switched to DSL a few years ago and now have Uverse (Internet only, no TV).
    dhays
    • You could use the SkyDrive to send large files.

      n/t
      Ram U
    • Dump the phone....

      Dump the phone and you'll probably do better. Android is cool, don't get me wrong on that. But there's more to the World that what G has to offer. And it usually works a lot better in the long run.
      Narg