Microsoft is revamping its free webmail service by ditching the Hotmail brand and replacing it with Outlook.com.
The new service will automatically sort emails as they arrive in the inbox by recognising messages from listed contacts, identifying social media notifications, newsletters and other ‘labels’ assigned by the user.
Links to social media accounts, Google and most excitingly, Skype are the main up-date of Outlook.com. It aims to bring relevant context and communications to your email experience. The Outlook.com inbox will “come alive with photos of friends, status updates, Tweets and the ability to video-call.” The service is kept up-to-date by linking to your email and social media contact lists.
The move will see features of the desktop email program of the same name favoured by businesses now available as a personal email service. Its in-built Office apps are in answer to other web-based applications such as Google Docs and its cloud storage platform Skydrive also comes as standard, quashing attachment size limits and rivalling Google Drive and other document and photo sharing programs like Dropbox.
On the surface the up-dated email program looks the part with a clean user interface but industry experts have given it mixed reviews.
Microsoft claim Outlook.com is the first email service to connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like but others are sceptical of this statement and instead said it lacks innovation. One reviewer suggested there was in fact no new technology and that filtering tools and social network integration have been around for a while. Claims of reverse-consummation - essentially reworking the Outlook business tool for the mass market - have also been heard.
By far its praises have been for its integration with Skype which is an industry first.
You can sign up for a new Outlook.com email address now. Existing Microsoft email account holders with Hotmail, MSN or Live emails aren’t being forced to the new platform just yet and can continue using their email programs as normal.
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