An outlook on Outlook!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve used Hotmail.

Hotmail, though a widely used email service, lost its market share to the relatively new players like GMail. So it is high time that Microsoft started doing something to get back its share.

Microsoft did a lot of experiments to regain its popularity. Back in 2010, it launched a service called “Cool Hotmail” which allowed its users create an email id of the form “yourname@<yourinterest>.com”. Though you can’t use any word in place of <yourinterest>, Microsoft offered a slew of options ranging from “clubhrithik.com” to “vadapavrocks.com”. I managed to get myself an email id of the form “<myname>@globallyunique.in” (and just so you know, it’s still alive!) But the problem with Cool Hotmail was, it was the same Hotmail service that Microsoft always offered except that it was shrouded in a nifty camouflage. Hotmail was (and still is) a bit cluttered.

Meanwhile, Microsoft came up with the Metro UI Windows 8 UI which shows items/apps as a beautiful arrangement of colored tiles. The interface was fast, fluid and worked the way it was meant to. They used the same interface in Windows 8 OS for computers, on the Windows 8 phones and the Microsoft Surface. So, they decided to incorporate Windows 8 UI to email. So, on the 31st of July, they launched a completely new email service that isn’t called Hotmail, and called it Outlook. Outlook has a very fast interface (faster than Gmail,Yahoo Mail) that is extremely stylish and is more social than any other mail service in the arena! You can “poke”, “like”, “retweet” or even chat with your social networking friends without leaving the inbox. It lets you import all your emails and contacts from other email services like Gmail or Yahoo and automatically updates the same. So, its a unified mailbox for all your emails. The added bonus is that, it allows you to edit the Powerpoint or Word files that come as attachments by storing and opening them directly from your Skydrive account. It shows the attachments as tiles and gives you an option to download them as a zip file. You can send files more than 25 MB in size without uploading it to another file host. If a file is >25 MB, it automatically gets uploaded to your Skydrive. So Outlook has tighter integration with Skydrive than GMail with Google Drive!

Another cool option that only Outlook offers is a “single-use code”. If you’re not comfortable typing your password in the public or have someone peeping onto your keyboard when you type your password, then Outlook is the service to use! You have the following screen for requesting the single-use code:

Once you type your phone number, Microsoft texts you the password which can be used for your login. (Note: You can only use one phone number as support for multiple numbers gives the access to everyone!)

What are you waiting for? Head over to Outlook.com and get yourself yet-another-email.

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