Outlook.com email service – top new features
What is Outlook.com?
The new email service from Microsoft, Outlook.com, aims to replace Hotmail and offer free email while also adding a range of new features to improve the experience.
Microsoft plans on phasing out the Hotmail brand as it moves all its products and services onto the Metro user interface – which appears in its Windows Phone 7 products and the upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
For more information read our news story on Hotmail to be replaced with Outlook.com.
You can sign up for a new email address and a preview at the following link for Outlook.com.
5 top features in Outlook.com
- New design
Taking on the Metro style of Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8, Outlook offers a very clean and nicely designed interface. Users are also able to customise their inbox with a choice of colours.
- No ‘creepy ads’
In a move aimed squarely at Google’s Gmail Microsoft has made a big thing of claiming the service won’t show you ‘creepy ads’ – refering to Google’s targeted ads based on a user’s search history.
- Categorises emails
In an attempt to make inboxes more efficient, Outlook separates out emails with document or picture attachments to make them easier to find. You can also flag emails for follow up or create your own categories to sort emails.
- Uses Skydrive and Skype
Integrating Microsoft’s cloud storage service Skydrive, Outlook is able to work without email attachment size limits so users can send large photos and other files. Video calling service Skype has also been integrated so you can quickly call your contacts should you wish.
- Can connect social accounts and other emails
You can connect services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to bring in information from your contacts to help keep you updated with what’s happening before you email them. You can also connect other email accounts so all your emails come into one inbox.
Tim’s impressions of Outlook.com
The new service certainly looks the part and the new Metro design is clean and clear. Whether it’s something you will like will depend on personal taste but I am impressed with how well it is presented and, in my opinion, it is one of the best we have seen.
Most of the other features aren’t particularly new and have been available on other email clients. It is however one of the first times these features have been made widely available – especially free of charge.
The service is clearly aimed to be something of a ‘Gmail killer’ as Microsoft has attacked Google’s creepy ads and has pointed out that you are able to pull in emails from other services – mentioning Gmail by name.
After trying out the service briefly it does seem easy to use and works well, although I have noticed a few problems pulling emails from Gmail – but, whether these problems have been caused by Outlook or Gmail it is hard to tell. Saying that it is only a preview version of the software, so I’d hope it would be improved on when the full version is released.
The social integration seems to work well and pulls in contact information from all your accounts – though perhaps too much, as I found people in my contact list I haven’t spoken to in years.
Overall it certainly seems like a well designed and efficient email service and is definitely an improvement on the Hotmail system.
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