Outlook.Com: Clean, Fresh, Exciting

Last month, Microsoft introduced Outlook.com, its successor to its aging Hotmail service. The update is designed to make the user interface cleaner, simpler, and more efficient.

Outlook.com is a great update – if you like Hotmail, you’re going to love Outlook. And even if you didn’t trust Hotmail because of its AOL-esque name, now’s the time to make the jump. Outlook.com is really a spectacular service. It takes on the new Metro interface, with bigger buttons and a bar at the top with links to its other services like People, Calendar, and SkyDrive, Messaging, and other options relating to your email.

 

Why did they create Outlook.com? According to Microsoft, they already had a first-class email client with Hotmail, but Hotmail wasn’t exactly the best name out there. And even though it was a great email service, it wasn’t winning. So Microsoft has decided to change the branding. The new name for Hotmail, as you know, already belongs to the robust, trusted Office product Outlook, but Microsoft decided to apply it to its webmail service as well, thereby breathing life into both products.

Outlook’s closest buddy on the desktop side, surprisingly, is the Mail app in Windows 8 – not Outlook (Office). Mail and Outlook.com look almost the same, although the web-based Outlook has much more functionality and customization, as well as drag-and-drop and other things. They both have the same flat and clean interface as all other Metro apps, and they display your email in columns.

So what is different between the two?  They both have three columns – folders, messages, and a reading pane – but Outlook has a fourth, which displays either non-invasive text ads which are not annoying at all or social networking connections related to the sender of the email when a certain email is selected. The toolbar on the top has been overhauled from the Hotmail version, and it’s way smaller and cleaner than even Gmail’s toolbar. With Outlook, you can access Messaging right from this toolbar, where you can IM your friends via your favorite social network.

The great features from Hotmail are still there – the great spam filters and cleanup options such as Sweep, automatic unsubscribe to newsletters, and junk mail reporting. And Active Views let you view videos, photo slideshows, and other content right within Outlook.

In conclusion, Outlook.com is a spectacular email service that is better than both the Mail app in Windows 8 and its predecessor, Hotmail. Coated with the wonderful Metro experience and connected to services like Skype, Office Web Apps, and SkyDrive, Outlook is sure to be a winner.

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