How new Outlook just made my Gmail usable again

Hotmail's got a new name and some fresh paint, but best of all, it's made Gmail usable again

The decision to phase out the Hotmail-branded email service is a smart one on Microsoft's part.

It shakes off the legacy of spam-ridden inboxes that Hotmail was known for in its early life, a perception that prevailed despite the fact that the company went to some lengths to address the issues, and conjures up the idea of a service with reliable heritage. After all, the Outlook brand has been around a long time.

Outlook has the unintended side effect of making Gmail more usable. Image credit: Ed Bott

But aside from all the features  the freshly launched Outlook service boasts, one thing in particular has convinced me to give it a whirl. You already know that  I like the Metro interface , and despite the many fine desktop email clients , I prefer a cloud-based option.

Like most people I have countless email addresses, but Gmail is my provider of choice for my personal account. But despite Google's best efforts to keep it relatively spam and junk/newsletter free, over the years it's become a bit daunting. I mean, there are thousands of unread emails that I never need to see. Just sitting, waiting to be filtered and deleted.

On top of that I've never really been that crazy about the appearance of Gmail; it all just strikes me as a bit cluttered. However, with a fresh interface and the option to hook up a whole bunch of different email accounts, Outlook looks like it might be what I was looking for in terms of a way to manage my Gmail inboxes, without ever really seeing them.

I've never really liked Gmail's labelling-rather-than-folders view on email, so I'm happy to be back with folder options when managing it through Outlook; but more than that, I'm not really inclined to make individual rules up for all my different subscriptions, which lets almost-junk mail build up.

So Outlook's (nee Hotmail's) Sweep option is an ideal way of getting rid of all the excess in one go, but keeping the mails that are still relevant.

Highlight GroupOn email > Select 'Sweep' > 'Schedule clean-up' > 'Only keep latest message from this sender' > Click 'Ok'

Thousands of emails that I've never gotten around to dealing with are gone and it took virtually no effort. Repeat the process for the worst offenders and the inbox is looking almost manageable.

Naturally, the messages are still sitting in my actual Gmail inbox, but for now I can't think of a reason to open it.

Who knows, maybe in time I'll grow to hate it, but for now I'm just happy to be able to use my Gmail again. And yes, I could've done this before with Hotmail, but who still uses that?

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