Getting Started With Outlook.com, The New Email Service From Microsoft

Microsoft has finally woken up from the Google Gmail buzz as Gmail user base has finally surpassed Hotmail, the free Microsoft email service. Google, in a blog post, announced that there were more than 425 million Gmail user accounts while Hotmail user base is still 360 million.

Microsoft started overhauling all their products to embrace a new tiled interface which spans across all platforms, devices and products. Windows 8 was introduced with Metro interface and so has been Office 2013. Now it’s the turn of Hotmail to be revamped. Microsoft has finally rebranded their email service to match their popular product, Microsoft Outlook. Outlook.com will be the name for all email services like live.com, hotmail.com, msn.com etc.

Hotmail was acquired by Microsoft in 1997 and was the most popular email provides until early 2000’s. Google’s Gmail was introduced in 2004 as a simple and effective email service which people started embracing quickly. And now Gmail stands on top of all free email providers including Hotmail.

It looked as if Microsoft had taken for granted that people will be using their Hotmail email service. But now Microsoft seems to have taken some measures to save their email service from further deterioration.

Outlook.com has been introduced as a complete revamp of Microsoft’s email service. Outlook.com offers the same tiled and Metro style interface to match with other Microsoft products. Let’s go through the features of Outlook.com step by step.

The signup process

Outlook.com signup

Since Outlook.com will be replacing all other Microsoft email services, the same Microsoft account can be used to sign into Outlook.com. There is no need to signup for the service again. If you are a Hotmail user, you can easily sign in with your Hotmail credentials and you’ll get all your email in Outlook.com. It you don’t have a Microsoft account then you’ll need to sign up with Outlook.com. The signup process is very simple and is very similar to email signup process of any email service provider. Actually you’ll be taken to live.com to create a Microsoft account rather than a dedicated Outlook.com account. But from now on, the new users will be able to create email addresses as username@outlook.com

The Inbox layout

Outlook.com Inbox layout

The layout of Outlook.com Inbox is somewhat similar to Hotmail.com but with a clean and sleek look n feel. There is a top menu pane which consists of different action items like creating a new email, replying to open emails, delete, junk management, categorizing etc. The new categories of Outlook.com are very similar to Gmail tags. In fact both have the same functionality with different names.

Outlook.com drop down menu

If you hover your mouse curser on the Outlook icon on the top left of the screen, you’ll get a new drop down menu showing the following items:

  1. Mail
  2. People
  3. Calendar
  4. SkyDrive

Outlook.com apps

You can click on any tile to open the corresponding web app. Mail and People have been converted to the Metro interface while Calendar and SkyDrive are still sharing the old live.com interface. Hopefully Microsoft will shift these to the new interface.

The First email from Microsoft

When you sign up with Outlook.com, you’ll get an email from Microsoft about what are the next steps you can take after signing up. The first thing you can do is add another email address to Outlook.com so that you will be able to send and receive emails from that email address right from Outlook.com interface.

Add an email account to Outlook.com

Add another email address to Outlook.com

Secondly you’ll be able to add people to your contact list using different methods including the following:

  1. Facebook friends
  2. Google contacts
  3. LinkedIn contacts
  4. Twitter contacts
  5. Import contacts

Add people to Outlook.com contact list

You can also connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Outlook.com account. When connected, you’ll see updates from Facebook and Twitter on the right hand pane of Outlook.com Inbox. This will allow you to get updates from Facebook and Twitter right within Outlook.com without ever opening other accounts.

Outlook.com apps are available for Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad and Android. You can easily download the app on your favorite smartphone and start using Outlook.com right away.

Visit here to download smart phone apps of Outlook.com

Final thoughts

Although Microsoft has taken a positive step toward making their Hotmail email service a modern service but the effort is not enough in my opinion. When we look closely, Microsoft has revamped the interface of Hotmail under a different name but not much of the new functionality has been added. I still like the simple interface of Gmail and will not be shifting to Outlook.com in the near future. Yahoo email users may be tempted to use Outlook.com services because it is not cluttered with ads and offers a better anti-spam service.

What are your thoughts about this new service? Will you ditch your current email provide in favor of Outlook.com? Tell us in comments below.