Back in the day, Hotmail was, well, pretty hot. It was one of the first free Web-based email services available, instantly attracting a lot of users. It still has hundreds of millions of users worldwide. But it’s time to start saying goodbye to Hotmail. On Tuesday morning, Microsoft launched the preview version of Outlook.com, its new personal, free Web-based email service.
Eventually, Microsoft intends to migrate all Hotmail users to Outlook.com. But for the time being, Hotmail users can continue to use the same interface they’ve been using. Hotmail users who choose to do so will also be able to keep their Hotmail addresses even after moving over to Outlook.com.
Outlook.com combines both the familiar and the new.
Millions of people already use Outlook — Microsoft’s email, contacts, calendar and task-management system — primarily at work. It also comes bundled with several versions of Office, Microsoft’s productivity suite with a billion users worldwide.
It’s a name people are familiar with and already associate with email.
Branding both the business and personal email offerings from Microsoft with the same name “is very simplifying” for people, said Dharmesh Mehta, a senior director at Microsoft.
At the same time, Outlook.com is a spiffed-up-looking version of Outlook, featuring a clean new design and new features.
Outlook.com came about when Microsoft realized that “Web mail hasn’t kept up with what people are doing,” Mehta said.
Outlook engineers began thinking about “what does it mean to have a modern email,” he said.
Thus, Outlook.com includes features such as the option to connect to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks; the ability to open, edit and share Office documents anywhere via Office Web Apps; and options to easily connect in other ways, such as chat or a status update from a social network.
Still to come, Microsoft says, is the ability to make Skype video calls directly from your inbox.
Also, when emailing a person in your address book, there will be no ads featured, Microsoft promises.
There’s also the ability to filter newsletters, group deals and the like.
These features are designed not just to modernize Microsoft’s Web-based personal email service, but also to harmonize it with other changes…
Read more: Seattle Times