Microsoft is replacing its Hotmail email service with Outlook.com. While Hotmail has 324 million users, Google’s fast-growing Gmail has 450 million. The name Outlook is familiar to most corporate workers who use the popular Microsoft Office email application.
Hotmail was launched in 1996 by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith and acquired by Microsoft in 1997 for an estimated $400 million.
The rebranding and overhaul of Microsoft’s email service is Microsoft’s first major change in its email service in eight years. Here are the notable features of the new email service Outlook.com:
- Outlook.com has a new design that Microsoft says uses 60 per cent fewer pixels but 30 per cent more messages visible in the inbox
- Outlook.com connects to Facebook and Twitter to enrich conversations. Users can view recent status by friends and Tweets shared by friends.
- Users can chat with Facebook users and other Outlook users from inside Outlook.com.
- Users can open, edit and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in Outlook.com.
- Outlook’s address book integrates contacts from Facebook and LinkedIn.
- With Outlook.com users can make Skype video calls even when both users don’t have Skype installed. This feature will be rolled out soon.
- Photographs attached with emails can be viewed as a slideshow.
- Outlook.com comes integrated with Microsoft’s cloud storage service SkyDrive, this removes the restrictions of attachment size limits.
- Outlook.com automatically detects mass messages such as newsletters, offers, daily deals and social updates and puts them in separate folders. Users can customize the process to sort mail any way they want to.
- Existing Hotmail users can upgrade to the Outlook.com preview and their email address, password, contacts, old email, and rules will remain unchanged. They can continue to send and receive email from their @hotmail.com or @msn.com or @live.com address.