Microsoft has launched a brand-new consumer webmail service called Outlook.com which is built from ground zero but to be an improved experience compared to the typical Hotmail or Live Webmail user experiences.
It is intended to answer Google’s Gmail.com by providing that same clean user experience rather than the cheesy look that Hotmail and Yahoo Mail were known for. This was where there were plenty of gaudy targeted ads including TV-commercial “video ads”. Instead, there will be less space devoted to ads and there wont be those TV commercials. Similarly the user interface will also have a “Metro” look similar to the Windows 8 touch-screen user interface.
New users would be assigned an email address with the Outlook.com domain rather than the Hotmail.com which is, in some areas, is treated with disgust. As well, they would get a virtually-unlimited Inbox and 7Gb SkyDrive storage,
Existing Hotmail and Live users can upgrade to the new user interface but would have to preserve their current email address, not just for continuity’s sake but so that other Microsoft Live ecosystem services that they are part of still work. This is because these haven’t been migrated to the new domain name. Of course, there will be a question raised about whether Microsoft will cease the Hotmail service or run it side-by-side with the option to use the new user experience or fully merge to an Outlook.com account.
One key drawcard with the new Outlook.com service is its Social Web integration where you can work Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Gmail contacts from this service. You also have “one-click” access to these services so you can post or share material to these social networks. There is work in progress with integrating Skype in to the service so you can start a Skype videocall from your Outlook.com session.
One improvement I see of this is an attempt to work over an “old-dog” Webmail service in a manner to make it fresh to today’s expectations and throw away the cheesy look of yesteryear.