Hotmail revamped as Outlook – but why is Microsoft doing it?
Microsoft's revamped webmail promises a 'cleaner' look with Facebook and Twitter integration
MICROSOFT is bidding farewell to Hotmail after 16 years and relaunching the free email service as Outlook.com. So what can Hotmail's 350 million users expect from the webmail rebrand?
What will the new webmail look like?
The new interface promises fewer display ads, a "fresh and clean" look and 30 per cent more visible messages. Outlook.com will sort messages into personalised folders as they arrive, helping to tackle the problem of cluttered inboxes, and will offer free Office web apps – including Word, PowerPoint and Excel – so users can view and edit attachments without leaving their inbox.
The webmail will be integrated with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, in the future, Skype. Users will be able to see status updates and photographs from friends and followers, and contacts from Facebook and LinkedIn can be integrated into the address book. Microsoft points out that the user is "in control of the experience", so can choose how they share information and connect with networks. A preview of the new look can be seen at Outlook.com.
Why is Microsoft doing it?
Microsoft says it is time for a "fresh look at email" after making no significant updates to Hotmail in eight years. As inboxes become cluttered with newsletters and people prefer to keep in touch with their friends via social networks, Microsoft says traditional email services are becoming less useful. The main aim is to recapture growth in the webmail market, say analysts, as Hotmail loses customers to its fastest-growing rival, Google's Gmail. The rebrand will also bring the webmail service in line with Microsoft's office email brand, Outlook.
When will it happen?
Microsoft intends to eventually move all Hotmail users to Outlook.com but for now Hotmail users can continue using the old interface. The Outlook preview is now live so Hotmail users can make the switch from today by clicking the 'Upgrade to Outlook.com' tab in the options menu. The new service reportedly garnered one million accounts in its first six hours, which includes new users as well as Hotmail users migrating across. Those who do choose to move over will be able to keep their @hotmail.com or @hotmail.co.uk addresses even after making the change.