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What Will Replace Hotmail

This week Microsoft revealed that it is drop­ping its estab­lished free email ser­vice Hot­mail for Out­look email, to pro­vide bet­ter Win­dows and Office inte­gra­tion, con­nec­tion with social media ser­vices, and oth­er features.

Hot­mail was acquired by Microsoft in 1996, and since then it has enjoyed suc­cess as a free online email ser­vice, though Microsoft is now phas­ing out this client in favour of the new brand Out­look (avail­able to try as a pre­view at  bring­ing new fea­tures that many state have been a long time coming.

This re-brand­ing effort is noth­ing new. Microsoft were orig­i­nal­ly plan­ning to phase out the ser­vice with the intro­duc­tion of Win­dows Live Mail in 2006, but the con­fu­sion over what this new ser­vice pro­vid­ed and the want of devel­op­ers to stick with the already pop­u­lar Hot­mail name caused Microsoft to change its name to Win­dows Live Hot­mail instead.

But it appears now that there is enough incen­tive, and enough applic­a­ble updates, for a com­plete rebrand­ing to make sense for Microsoft. Intro­duced at the start of this month, the ser­vice man­aged to gath­er 1 mil­lion accounts in only 6 hours. Much of this fig­ure will no doubt be exist­ing Hot­mail users who can sim­ply click a but­ton on their email page to upgrade to Outlook.

This rebrand­ing effort is hap­pen­ing for two rea­sons; to make Microsoft’s free email ser­vice more com­pet­i­tive with Google’s Hot­mail, which is cur­rent­ly the fastest grow­ing email ser­vice with 31% of the mar­ket share, and to align their email ser­vice with the office email brand. Hot­mail is still the largest free email ser­vice in the world with rough­ly 324 mil­lion users, but Gmail’s rapid rise to dom­i­nance means that this sit­u­a­tion might change very soon, mean­ing there has nev­er been a more use­ful time to rebrand.

Outlook’s New Features

There are many new fea­tures with Out­look, with con­nec­tiv­i­ty and net­work­ing fea­tures now mak­ing Microsoft a true con­tender with Gmail. Out­look will allow the user to con­nect with social media and net­work­ing ser­vices such as Twit­ter, Face­book, LinkedIn and even Google+, and also Microsoft’s cloud data stor­age ser­vice Sky­drive. It is said that Skype video chat will also be available.

Out­look also pro­vides inbox organ­i­sa­tion tools that help to sep­a­rate dai­ly sub­scrip­tion and social media updates into sep­a­rate fold­ers, thread­ed mes­sages and office 365 online doc­u­ment integration.

Visu­al­ly, the new Out­look design is clean and sim­ple with a Metro style, not com­plete­ly dis­sim­i­lar to Gmail, with incon­spic­u­ous adver­tise­ments that will appar­ent­ly not be the ‘creepy ones’ that Google uses based on per­son­al user search history.

What do These New Fea­tures Mean?

These new fea­tures are good news for com­put­er users who are using the pow­er of net­work­ing to increase their pro­fes­sion­al vis­i­bil­i­ty, with Microsoft final­ly pro­vid­ing a free cen­tralised email hub to con­duct all net­work­ing activ­i­ties and social media net­work­ing. Ser­vices such as LinkedIn and Google+ are becom­ing impor­tant for pro­fes­sion­al net­work­ing, find­ing out more about employ­ers and employ­ers, get­ting the word out and build­ing up your own pro­fes­sion­al list of con­tacts, and Outlook’s com­pat­i­bil­i­ty will cer­tain­ly help to facil­i­tate this.

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