Microsoft has today announced the beta of a new free e-mail service called Outlook.com. The design of the interface takes design features from the Windows 8 Mail app and Outlook 2013. This new interface is to be a fresh and clean functioning design that will also be touch-friendly and adhere to privacy concerns as well as be accessible from any device.
Formerly referred to as "NewMail", this new Outlook.com takes Hotmail's features along with Activesync, sweep and integration with SkyDrive and the Office 365 web apps and gives you a nice new interface. This new design is basically a Hotmail replacement.
The design of the client is straightforward. Your folders are on the left then emails in the center and ads appear on the right.
Ads/The Third Panel
Microsoft likes to maintain that its method for pushing ads in Hotmail is better than Gmail's since Hotmail's advertisements do not use contents of your email to improve on targeting. This advertising/third panel on the right will even show you information on a person that you are reading email from, such as Twitter or Facebook information as well.
The advertising section can also be replaced by an instant messaging panel as well. Currently this is limited to Windows Messenger and Facebook contacts but in the next few months this will also integrate with Skype video chat.
Other Services Getting a Facelift soon
Contacts, calendar and other services will get a new look in the coming months. People formerly called contacts is available immediately. The People Service shares Facebook and Twitter integration and will also include Skype eventually.
Outlook.com the Hotmail Replacement
Outlook.com is going to replace the existing Hotmail interface eventually. Existing Hotmail users can switch to the new Outlook.com from their settings menu and also switch back if they don't like it. However, once the service is out of beta, Hotmail users will be automatically migrated to the new system over time.
More of the Same but Some New
Some things are still the same with Outlook.com such as the inbox size. It is still basically "unlimited" and supports attachments up to 300 MB that are sent from SkyDrive. There is still the lack of support for IMAP clients and the web interface does not have offline ability.
The Tech-Stew Take Home
The biggest change here is that of the look and feel. With this newly styled interface, which is uniform across many devices, the new Outlook.com interface offers a familiar interface that people will grow to use in Windows 8 as well. The addition of social networking is a bonus and par for the course in this day and age. Microsoft's new direction with Windows 8 and the mobile platform is showing its sense of direction even win applications such as this one. This new interface will likely prove useful in attracting people to try Hotmail again as well as Windows 8. Either way, Hotmail's Webmail interface has come a long way since its conception in 1996. You can try the new beta/preview by clicking this link.
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