Yesterday, Microsoft announced the successor to their infamous webmail, Hotmail, and it’s taken its name from the Microsoft Office programme Outlook. Put simply, Outlook.com is fantastic.
Free from clutter and disorganisation that is present in Hotmail, Outlook features Microsoft’s now trademark Metro UI that sets it up perfectly for Windows 8′s pending introduction on October the 26th.
It is so much quicker to navigate through emails on Outlook.com, and Facebook and Twitter (etc) are integrated, meaning during email conversations you can also see that contact’s latest tweet, or chat with them on MSN Messenger or Facebook Chat via a side box (that reminded me of Windows 8 and how the windows ‘snap’ next to each other on the same screen). It’s all very neat. If you consider that soon Skype will be integrated too, meaning free video calling on the webmail site, you’re really onto a winner.
The interface is clean, snappy and a pleasure to use, and it’s received near universal praise, and I don’t think it is just Hotmail with a new skin, it’s Hotmail with a much improved skin, faster navigation and a few extra neat features. I don’t really get why Gmail is so much more popular than Hotmail in the tech world, because I rarely have issues with Hotmail and I find the Gmail interface bland, but perhaps this shake up will encourage a few more users to make the change back to Microsoft. And maybe making that change will help to ease them into the Metro ‘lifestyle’ that they will presumably be placed in with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox 360 and Office all already metrofied.
The only issue with Outlook.com is that you shouldn’t rename your Microsoft account to a @outlook.com account if you’re a Windows Phone 7 user, because some data will be lost on your phone as a hard reset will be required. You can wait for Windows Phone 8, you can take the hit of lost data, or you can leave it. If you are going to wait for Windows Phone 8, I recommend reserving an alias with your real name and no numbers(!) (you can find this in ‘more settings’ in Outlook) and then, when WP8 is released, delete your alias and then rename your account, and you’ll have a nice new @outlook.com account with your real name instead of your old @hotmail or @live account with numbers and underscores tacked in. Non-Windows Phone 7 users can of course rename their account properly without any fear of losing data on their phones.
Long and the short of it, Outlook.com is really worth a go, because it’s such a huge UI improvement (although I’m getting used to this from Microsoft lately…). But don’t take my word for it, try it out here: http://www.outlook.com and reserve your alias or rename your account!