Microsoft made a big
move today by pulling the plug on Hotmail and replacing it with a
fresher, cleaner, simpler email service called Outlook.com. Within just a
few hours of its birth, Outlook.com witnessed 1 million sign-ups. So
what is making the newly launched e-mail service popular? We find out.
up for the service is pretty basic and you're good to go after a few
steps. A note of advice here, captcha is case sensitive while verifying
your account. Once in, you're greeted by a simple blue and white themed
Inbox. The colour is set by default and you can always head to the
settings menu to change it. Overall, the design incorporates Metro style
Windows 8 touches.
You can now link social accounts such as
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr. Apart from that, you can also
access a horizontal menu for your Mail, Contacts, Calendar and SkyDrive
by clicking on the Outlook icon.
Twitter integration allows you to tweet to your friends from Outlook.com and see their latest
tweets in e-mails. But your contact list will appear overcrowded with all those you follow. Despite the option to search for contacts directly or jump through the
alphabet by section using the lettered squares that is highly reminiscent of Windows, but it can get a bit tedious. Good news is
Outlook.com has an option for merging contacts if you've imported them more than once.
The People Hub makes an appearance here
which is used in Windows 8 and Windows Phone to manage contacts.
Facebook Chat is integrated as well and your Facebook contacts shall
appear should you choose to link with the social network.
the service is in its launch form, Skype integration is not available
yet. But Microsoft plans to bring the video calling service once
Outlook.com takes its final avatar.
Speaking of e-mail, a big
standalone 'New' tab helps you create a new mail. The window is
definitely quite different from the traditional Outlook that users are
used to seeing. The sidebar offers access to enter recipient details.
The right pane is a big white blank screen where you can type your
There's a formatting bar above and the subject line sits
high on the top. Options to Send, Save, Cancel and more are situated in
the command bar a little to your left. It did take some time to notice
the new format but it's simpler once you get used to it.
features include the integration of keyboard shortcuts from Gmail and
Outlook Desktop. There's also autocomplete when searching your inbox
along with autoforwarding, message archiving and vacation alerts.
also can rename your e-mail address, recover deleted messages, create an
Outlook.com alias and save the contents of a chat thread or a new
All-in-all, Microsoft has made a decent attempt to
rejuvenate the email-service. It has a refreshing look and will attract
many more users in the coming weeks.
After it is released in its
final form, Outlook.com will replace Hotmail. But Microsoft will allow
users to retain their @hotmail.com, @live.com and @msn.com addresses as
well as their contacts, messages, password and rules.
A word of
caution if you are using anything other than the latest version of IE,
Chrome or Firefox - your experience may be less than optimal, since
Outlook is built using modern technologies available only in the new