Not to be confused with the Microsoft Outlook program available through Microsoft Office packages, Outlook.com is an online email service in the vein of Gmail and Yahoo!, and is replacing Microsoft’s Hotmail service. But the changes go beyond simply swapping names.
The new Outlook.com email is sleeker and aims to take email back to its basics while integrating new social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Users may also take advantage of online chat through Facebook. Users will be able to link with these social media services, and updates from friends will be viewable when receiving messages from those friends.
Outlook takes sorting junk emails from your relevant email a step further, too. It detects mass emails such as those from direct email marketing campaigns, and puts them in their own folder. The user can even customize this feature so mail is sorted in a way that makes sense to them.
Plans are in place to allow users to video chat via Skype from their Outlook account, and SkyDrive (Microsoft’s document storage service) is available with Outlook as well. Outlook also connects with Office Web Apps when an email includes an Office document.
Yet despite the many features, Outlook has adopted a simple appearance offering easy organization and separation of advertisements, which are clearly marked and visible in a slim right-hand column on the screen. On the left side will appear options to view Inbox, Junk, Drafts, Sent, Deleted emails, similar to many other common email platforms. A search feature is located in the upper left corner.
You can start to sign up for the new email service at Outlook.com. Hotmail users will be allowed to move their inbox and information to Outlook, but may keep their email address if they wish; they can even go back to using Hotmail if they are not pleased with Outlook.
Unclear so far is whether newsgroup support will be available with the new Outlook.com online email service. Support of newsgroups is currently available with the Microsoft Outlook program available with Microsoft Office packages.