Microsoft has gone public with Outlook.com, a online and free e-mail service that combines the functionality of Hotmail and the design of Windows 8. The service works from any devices, so it should partly remove the desire to avoid Hotmail.
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Outlook.com could finally be a messaging service to rival Gmail, unlike Hotmail
Microsoft has launched Outlook.com, a online e-mail service for free. Users can sign up now (more on that in a separate article, coming today), and the service looks well designed and functional, just like Windows 8.
Outlook.com has ActiveSync integration, allowing syncing of e-mail and pushes mail to devices. It also has integration with SkyDrive and Office apps, so there’s needed functionality, and a flat Metro design we’ve seen plenty of in Windows 8.
The design is a simple, three-columned design: e-mail folders on the left-hand side, messages in the middle, and advertisements on the right. That’s basically everything. The advertising columns is used for advertisements and non-advertisement features, so it shouldn’t be like the Xbox 360 dashboard where content you don’t care about is advertised everywhere.
For example, opening up e-mail from a person shows information about them. Twitter and Facebook profiles are linked, notably. It’s similar to the three-column design used in Bing: the right-hand column shows users who like content related to a search, and Twitter Experts are recommended to tweet about a search. Most recently, in Bing, users can share a search via Facebook and tag up to five friends in the search. Friends will then be notified of the search.
It’s also going to be possible to chat via Skype, the video chatting service Microsoft acquired, through the same pane. Basically like Google Chat, but Skype is probably a bigger draw than Google’s Hangouts. Skype integration will arriving in the coming months.
Hotmail users can switch to Outlook.com, and back, and the latter seems like an all-round better package. When I’ve used Hotmail, it’s seemed slow compared to Gmail. Gmail has a simplicity, even with the mediocre design. Outlook.com is currently in beta, but Hotmail users will be moved to the new service when fully released.
There’s no offline e-mail support, attachment up to 300MB, along with visual redesigns to other services including People and SkyDrive.
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