Microsoft’s Outlook.com includes free Office Web Apps — Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — to let consumers view and edit attachments without leaving the inbox. Outlook.com also comes with SkyDrive, so if users are sending photos, documents, or other large files, they can now put them on SkyDrive and stop worrying about attachment limits.
Microsoft’s Hotmail has been revamped time and time again. Now, in the cloud era, it’s becoming Outlook.com.
Microsoft didn’t stop with re-imagining cloud services forWindows 8 and Windows Phone. No, Microsoft apparently has been on a secret mission to re-imagine personal e-mail also. The new Outlook.com is that re-imagination. Microsoft is calling it “modern e-mail designed for the next billion mailboxes.”
“Webmail was first introduced with Hotmail in 1996. Back then, it was novel to have a personal e-mail address you could keep for life — one that was totally independent from your business or Internet service provider,” said Chris Jones, a corporate vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management at Microsoft.
Beyond the Browser
E-mail is becoming less and less useful as inboxes become cluttered with newsletters and social updates, Jones said. People increasingly keep up their personal connections in social networks instead of their e-mail address books.
Outlook.com is Microsoft’s attempt to break away from the past.
“E-mail isn’t just about the browser anymore. In fact, e-mail represents 20 percent of the time we spend on smartphones, and is used extensively on tablets as well as PCs,” Jones said. “Outlook is designed cloud first, so all of your mail is always available wherever you are. Outlook.com also uses Exchange ActiveSync, so it powers your mail, calendar and people experience on your smartphone, tablet and the new Outlook 2013 Preview.”
Outlook.com includes free Office Web Apps — Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — to let consumers view and edit attachments without leaving the inbox. Outlook.com also comes with SkyDrive, so if users are sending photos, documents, or other large files, they can now put them on SkyDrive and stop worrying about attachment limits. Finally, Microsoft also played the privacy card.
“We don’t scan your e-mail content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company, and we don’t show ads in personal conversations,” Jones said. “We let you decide whether to connect your account to social networks, and which ones you want to use — and you’re in control of who you friend or follow.”
Sign of the Times
Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis, said Microsoft’s move makes perfect sense because it lets Microsoft focus on a popular consumer brand in Microsoft Office.
“By aligning across disparate devices, Microsoft can start capitalizing on the convergence between personal and professional personas among users. Messaging, file synchronization, and sharing and editing services are all using the same sort of back end and front end apps,” Shimmin said.
“Change is painful but sometimes warranted. I think when you are talking about services as old as Hotmail, it’s definitely warranted. By modernizing e-mail and bringing it into alignment with their broader portfolio both on the enterprise and consumer side, Microsoft is going to better service users.”