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outlook metro iconMicrosoft unveiled a dramatic overhaul of its Hotmail email service. The Hotmail name is dead and will instead be replaced by Outlook. Current Hotmail.com users will have the ability for their @hotmail.com email address to be automatically migrated to a @outlook.com address. While this sudden change may be jarring to some users, it is actually a solid and necessary change to Microsoft's email service.

The biggest change users will notice right off the bat is the complete Metro style overhaul of the web interface. The entire website (for the most part) works just like you would expect a Windows 8 Metro app to work. With tight SkyDrive integration, integrated messaging, and video calling, Microsoft is aiming squarely at Gmail.

Let's take a deeper look and get our hands dirty with the new Outlook.com.

Mail

outlook.com mail

The mail interface of Hotmail has been completely scrapped, though you can still tell that Hotmail is running things under the hood. On the left you will find your folders and 'Quick views' for important folders like Documents, Flagged, Photos, and even Shipping updates. You can create new folders and move email messages into each. Microsoft tries to make the entire interface function like a native Metro application by enabling right-clicking options within the new Mail interface. Unfortunately its only half baked at this point and there are no right-clicking options in the People or Calendar sections.

At the top, users will notice the dynamic tool bar, changing depending on what content you have active. If you're in an email message, you have options to reply, delete, mark as junk, and to categorize it. Browse to a different section and the options will change to cater to what you're doing at the moment. Threaded messages are not set by default, bringing forward an option that was hidden away in the old Hotmail.

Outlook.com integrates chat into the mail interface which allows you to link your Live and Facebook contacts into the side for quick chatting. Chat worked well and looks like a native chat client you would find in Windows 8. Microsoft says that Skype video chat will be integrated "soon" but isn't available as of now.

People

outlook.com people contacts

Contact management has received a major overhaul in the new Outlook.com as well. You can link your Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin contacts. To the left, users will see a list of contacts sorted by alphabetical order. You can click on a letter to bring up the entire alphabet to quickly navigate to a section of your contacts list. There is also a search bar at the top left for instantly looking up a contact.

Also of note is the ability to clean up your contacts from the 'Manage' option. It will look for duplicate contacts and will offer to merge all of their contact information into one contact card. This is very handy and worked well to clean up my unruly contacts list. Photos from the social networks that you linked to the People section will show up for each contact, creating a much more visual contact browsing experience.

As with the Mail tab, you can chat with you friends in the People tab, with Skype video chat to come.

Calendar

Hotmail calendar

Outlook.com is still considered a "preview" by Microsoft so not everything is polished and ready for prime time yet. We can see this in the Calendar tab, which has received no updates. The Hotmail moniker is still located at the top of the page with a basic calendar layout. You still have access to your agenda and to-do list but Microsoft has yet to roll out its Metro interface for this section.

SkyDrive

SkyDrive also receives no update in the preview version. Users will still be able to access their documents and photos. In this section.

While the SkyDrive interface hasn't received a face lift, SkyDrive has been tightly integrated into the Mail section of Outlook.com. Users are now given 7GB of free SkyDrive space to house their documents and photos that they send via email. Google claims to give is users "unlimited" storage for their attachments, which may exceed the amount of space that Outlook.com gives its users in the future.

Mobile

ipad outlook.com

Accessing the new Outlook.com on a mobile device like an iPad will take you to a touch focused mobile version. Unfortunately it's very basic and doesn't reflect the polished Metro redesign that Outlook.com received.

Final Thoughts

outlook.com icons

I am quite impressed at what Microsoft has done with its aging Hotmail service. It is smart of Microsoft to rebrand its stigmatized Hotmail service as Outlook, giving it a more professional look and sound. In terms of features, there weren't any dramatic introductions save chat integration and future Skype integration.

Outlook.com still doesn't support IMAP so users will be stuck using POP3 to sync their inboxes.

Google still has the more polished webmail service with its unique Priority Inbox, Google Hangouts, drag-and-drop file attachments, and superb spam filtering. One way that Microsoft does beat Google is with its social network integration that's sorely lacking from Gmail. There is no way to integrate Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter information with your Google Contacts and Google Chat only supports its own service.

While Outlook.com won't woo Gmail users to its service, it's a great upgrade for current Hotmail users and for potential Outlook.com users. Microsoft still needs to polish this preview version of Outlook.com but when it does, it will have a compelling ecosystem with a standardized user experience across all its products and services.

Commented

  • Debbie |
    05/08/12
    Debbie

    how do I view the list of contacts in each of my groups lists now?

  • ICT_Dreamer |
    06/08/12
    ICT_Dreamer

    Um, may I ask a question ?

    Due to the replacement, from Hotmail to Outlook, does this will affect my account on the other social sites ?

    Because I have many social accounts, which the e-mail address is hotmail.com . . .

    Please reply me, admin . . .

  • Angela Simpkiss |
    06/08/12
    Angela Simpkiss

    My hotmail address ends with .co.uk so will mine change to outlook? If so, how does this change in email address affect me with regards to receiving emails from all the places that have my hotmail address?

  • Robert Wmh |
    06/08/12
    Robert Wmh

    when will hotmail have this new online outlook up and running Meaning a date

  • diego |
    07/08/12
    diego

    por dios en que estaban pensando estos inutiles al hacer algo tan horrible e incomodo, siguen errando como siempre.

  • Brando |
    07/08/12
    Brando

    Ya era hora de modernizar y ofrecer a los usarios la renovación de hotmail. Felicidades

  • lewis.leong |
    07/08/12
    lewis.leong

    Any NEW email addresses created will be with an @outlook.com address. Any current Hotmail users will not have any problems logging into other sites and your email will still work, just with a new web interface. You can even link your Gmail address to the new Outlook.com.

  • Zero |
    09/08/12
    Zero

    Diego es un idiota, muy buena jugada por parte de Microsoft !!

  • Rick Hull |
    22/08/12
    Rick Hull

    Will emails from friends automatically be changed from hotmail.com, will a notice go out when it takes effect, or will I need to contact them to change my @... ?

  • Jim Nulph |
    30/08/12
    Jim Nulph

    How do I access my outlook.com email account through microsoft outlook?

  • V. Giles |
    26/10/12
    V. Giles

    Do you really think this was the only way to become "updated" and without notice? Do you think everyone is young, totally with the techie scene and can figure things out in a nano second because it's second nature? Well, excuse me if I don't agree with your new look or to have to read and figure everything out when email was simply, direct, easy to use, etc. Why mess with something that works well? Not everyone wants to live online, text, have a phone or iPad glued to their ear.

    Now what?

    And what's with the name "Softonic"....really?

  • waltn |
    03/11/12
    waltn

    Let's waite and see

  • danielle wilson |
    08/11/12
    danielle wilson

    my phone is a cricket i trying to put muice no the phone

  • Linda |
    10/11/12
    Linda

    I don't understand where the daily calendar is, I would like to have my appointments come up but can't find the calendar.

  • Laura Davenport |
    12/11/12
    Laura Davenport

    If I add a new contact or create/update a contact list I have to log off and log back on again for it to update and even then the new contacts may not appear on my system. I hate this 'upgrade'. How can I get it to work?, I do hit refresh but nothing happens.

  • Ken LeRoy |
    12/12/12
    Ken LeRoy

    We have automatic emails coming to our hot mail account that we do not want to have discontinued. Will this new transition affect any incoming emails automatically set up along with our contacts in our hot mail account. These questions have been generated due to a recent Skype update that has appeared on our computer.

  • PF |
    23/12/12
    PF

    How do I get to my contact list. I have names I want to delete or edit. How can I do this? Never had this problem with old Hotmail.

  • barry glassnbury |
    04/01/13
    barry glassnbury

    ok ,so outlook is not going away,just hook up my hotmail and i will spend the next nano centuries searching for my contacts.

  • Khan |
    01/02/13
    Khan

    all existing hotmail accounts are staying. They are also given an "option" of having an @outlook.com secondary address too.

  • Keith |
    22/02/13
    Keith

    I like to know why you are forcing people this ....I like my old hotmail that why I want Outlook deleted from my computer

  • leavingoutlook |
    22/02/13
    leavingoutlook

    I am going to vote with my feet. after using hotmail and msn for many years I think it is not time to start thinking about moving everything to google or yahoo. I dont like the new interface, I dont want to be connected to my facebook and linked in accounts I would rather I access them directly and as for skype, I already have skype and all my contacts there. I dont need it in my e-mail as well. Thank you msn but no thank you! Once people start leaving do you think you will get them back? Hardly!

  • deborah francey |
    22/02/13
    deborah francey

    I accept Outlook's invitation to move from Hotmail SAVING ALL MY CONTACTS FROM HOTMAIL. How do I proceed to make this transfer a reality TODAY 22/2/13????

  • Kate |
    25/02/13
    Kate

    It is really important that we find out how to maintain Categories (as in Hotmail) or Contact Groups, whatever you want to call them. This is frustrating many users. Please Help!!!!!

  • Annie |
    05/03/13
    Annie

    I have a problem with having been automatically switched from Hotmail to Outlook. I cannot receive or view any pictures. I am seriously thinking of changing my e-mail account.

  • jon |
    06/03/13
    jon

    Why do they not teach these 'red hot nots' that think change is neccessary every year (to no doubt justify their inflated salary)"if it isn't broke, don't fix it"... and if you must 'toy' with something make it better not worse... goodbye hotmail/(cold)outlook, hello yahoo...

  • Joan |
    27/03/13
    Joan

    Since it changed from hotmail to outlook (even though I've not changed my e-mail accoount) - I cannot access my e-mails from my mobile phone. Any ideas why?

  • Pat |
    02/04/13
    Pat

    my comment is that it would be nice if someone answered the questions that have already been posed. Thanks.

  • lewis.leong |
    03/04/13
    lewis.leong

    @Pat: We do not provide for Outlook but you can find the answer to your questions at Microsoft's Outlook.com support page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/outlook-help

  • Lewis Leong |
    03/04/13
    Lewis Leong

    @Pat: We do not provide support for Outlook but you can find the answer to your questions at Microsoft's Outlook.com support page: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/outlook-help

  • steve |
    08/04/13
    steve

    Change the Outlook Back to the old Hotmail as it worked a lot better. Outlook doesn't work at all and is absolutely garbage.

  • yasser |
    23/04/13
    yasser

    ok , but does it mean that my email can be @outlook.com or still using @Hotmail.com ,because I tried to send to my email but with xxxxx@outlook.com it didn't receive and failed please answer me

  • huda.abdullah3 |
    05/05/13
    huda.abdullah3

    Wecome

  • lewis.leong |
    06/05/13
    lewis.leong

    @yasser: Hotmail.com will automatically redirect to Outlook.com now. Your Hotmail email address will still work and will indefinitely. You have the option to create a new @outlook.com email if you so wish but it's not created automatically for you.

  • Lewis Leong |
    06/05/13
    Lewis Leong

    @yasser: Hotmail.com will automatically redirect to Outlook.com now. Your Hotmail email address will still work and will indefinitely. You have the option to create a new @outlook.com email if you so wish but it's not created automatically for you.

  • M |
    12/05/13
    M

    how can I delete the conversation in outlook.com ?

  • jida |
    28/05/13
    jida

    hot mail is the best

  • Stella Fraser |
    31/05/13
    Stella Fraser

    I agree with most of the above. How do you find your contacts?

  • Judy Brown |
    01/06/13
    Judy Brown

    I cannot get any mail at all. I want my hotmail account back like it was. I am very upset with all who are connecd with this change.

  • garydelp@charter.net |
    05/06/13
    garydelp@charter.net

    Did not transfer contact list. nothing in people file.

  • Revisn@hotmail.com |
    06/06/13
    Revisn@hotmail.com

    My tool bar is gone. I cannot reply, forward or do anything regarding my emails. I can read them and that's it. This is ridiculous. I am not happy.

  • fizz |
    13/06/13
    fizz

    hotmail is the best leave it alone

  • Robert Howarth |
    13/06/13
    Robert Howarth

    Yes Hotmail has been changed for the worse(outlook) I am looking to change my email account when I find what I want, something similar to Hotmail I hope

  • Eunice |
    21/06/13
    Eunice

    My contacts list cannot be read as only the very top of the letters of the address are visible.

  • Peter Uren |
    18/07/13
    Peter Uren

    What email address can I contact to obtain details of my old account?

  • Kate |
    19/07/13
    Kate

    The loss of Hotmail has made my contact list appear full of blank head images. I need the list with emails to check accuracy. Hotmail was far superior to this new outlook.live. All the support tel no. tell you you've beenhacked and want to sell very expensive services.

  • christine |
    30/07/13
    christine

    how do i get into outlook - my account is a hotmail but my hotmail details will not log me into outlook - help

20/10/14
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