Microsoft Hotmail is known as the largest e-mail service, with 324 million users after over 16 years of existence. They are followed by Gmail, which has acquired 278 million users in just about 6 years of life. Little wonder Microsoft finally chose to have a fresh start with a new, improved, user-friendly email service – Outlook.com. This is enabling them to tackle the problems that affected Hotmail in a new way. Moreover, the rise of social media has totally changed the web terrain in the last 6 years, making Hotmail rather obsolete for many people.
The new Outlook.com is designed for the cloud. It takes the new digital culture into consideration and the way email service are now used by Internet users. The service comes with a cleaner look and fewer intrusively noticeable ads as well as cloud drive and social media integration. The preview launched on July 31, 2012, offering major improvements after eight years of stagnancy. Outlook.com builds off the power of Outlook used on PCs and Macs by adding cleaner uncluttered user interface and removing display ads that may be obtrusive. It also works well with smartphones and tablet.
5 Major New Features Seen in Outlook.com
Outlook.com has reinvented web-based email service to suit the current generation of Internet users. They have also introduced features that are not readily available on Gmail and other web-based email service. Let’s run through some major features brought by Outlook.com.
1. Connection to Social Networks and Many Other Web Services
Outlook.com connects with social networks (Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and LinkedIn) right from inside your email account, providing status updates and tweets from friends.
2. Nice Email Filter
Outlook.com lets users filter the emails received based on “ documents”, “flagged” and “photos”. Photos are displayed within email body (if enabled). Also, documents can be viewed and edited within the same browser, and YouTube videos can be played within the body of emails.
3. Integration with SkyDrive
SkyDrive, which includes Office Web Apps for opening Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in browsers, is also integrated into the new Outlook.com. Thus, users can attach very large documents to their emails via SkyDrive, and they get 7 GB free cloud storage in their Microsoft Account which is integrated with Outlook.com.
4. Privacy Protection
Microsoft has announced that Outlook.com will avoid scanning personal emails to determine ads to deliver. This is meant to settle the fear of privacy intrusion for users of Outlook.com
5. Compatibility with Mobile Device and Outlook 2013 Sync
As expected, Outlook.com is designed to be easy-to-use on most mobile devices. Also, the new version of Outlook expected to be released towards the end of this year is said to be featuring Exchange Activesync that will enable users to easily synchronize their office mail with their Outlook.com account.
Here’s what you will see on the page for connecting with social networks and other web services:
The green “mark” sign on Facebook and LinkedIn icons indicate that those accounts are already connected to Outlook.com.
Getting Started with the New Outlook.com
Let quickly run through the process of setting up an account on Outlook.com
1. First, you need to sign up. That’s really easy and fast. Head to Outlook.com. On the front page, select “Sign Up”.
Enter all the required details in the Microsoft Account form and click Accept.
Next, you will be welcomed to Outlook.com. After reading the Welcome Message, click “Continue to Inbox” at the lower right hand side of the page.
Now, you will greeted by a cleaner inbox containing your first message, which is very important for perfectly setting up your account. It contains links to import information and and connect to other services:
- Link for integrating your new Outlook.com account with other emails (like Gmail) and importing all your emails
- Link for connecting with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn and many other services.
- Link for importing contacts from other email services
- Link for setting up Outlook on your mobile phone.
It takes just a few minutes to complete each of the steps. If you are planning to switch to Outlook.com, you shouldn’t miss these important steps.
A Look at the Different Sections of Outlook.com
Lets run through the basic functions of your email, especially how Outlook.com presents them:
Folders Section: Here’s a picture of what you will have on your Folder’s section. The Quick Views below Folders will help you narrow down your search quickly. If you are looking for an email that came with an attachment, you can simply click “documents” instead of inbox. For emails that contain photo(s), simply select “photos” rather than searching through your entire inbox.
Search Function: You will notice Outlook search box above the folders. Enter your search term for simple searches. For advanced search function, you simply have to click inside the search box to pop out Advanced search box, and then click on “Advanced search”.
Here’s what you’ll get:
Sending Messages: To send emails, click on “New” at the top right hand side or enter Ctrl+N on your keyboard.
This is what you will get below. Enter the recipients’ address to the left hand side, subject at the top and type your message in the message section.
After entering your message you can set the message to high, normal or low priority under “Options”; select rich text, plain text or edit in HTML; and then Send, Save draft or Cancel at the top of the page.
Chatting, Settings and Editing Profile: You will see these 3 very important tabs at the top right hand side of your page for chatting, setting your email preferences and editing profile respectively.
Should You Sign Up For Outlook.com Email?
It was reported that over 1 million persons registered on Outlook.com in less than 6 hours of launching. It was indeed the need of the hour to have a major competitor to Google’s Gmail service and Microsoft has stepped up to the task. Outlook.com looks really promising and Google will have to work harder if it wants Gmail to be the best email service out there. As users, this competition will only benefit us. We should just keep our fingers crossed and await the next turn of events.
Are you already using Outlook.com? Do you like it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.