It’s been a staple of the internet from the very start, not quite becoming the verb that Google did but still being an online mainstay for the past decade and through the internet boom, many present day users, getting their start on Microsoft’s Hotmail. Starting out in 1996, as one of the first internet email services, Hotmail at present services nearly 400 million users worldwide and though users may have shifted towards Google’s email service, Gmail, Hotmail still remains an industry stalwart. But perhaps the Hotmail as many came to know it will no longer be the same as Microsoft has announced that it is ready to rehaul the email service, redubbing it as offering a slew of new services.
Announcing yesterday, via the Microsoft blog, the firm said that it would be rebranding Hotmail, changing the name to Outlook.com in order to usher in “modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes.”
According to the blog, the decision to overhaul Hotmail followed decisions to reinvent Microsoft’s OS, Windows, which will be getting its latest iteration in the form of Windows 8, geared towards handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. And with this increasing trend towards handheld devices, the new Outlook will be offering cross functionality and will bridge numerous applications, such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter etc integrating them into the email service offering a very distinct user experience much like handheld devices do.
Writing on the blog, the firm said, "We are giving you the first email service that is connected to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google, and soon, Skype, to bring relevant context and communications to your email,” adding that, “In the Outlook.com inbox, your personal email comes alive with photos of your friends, recent status updates and tweets that your friend has shared with you, the ability to chat and video call - all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is connected to your social networks."
Outlook will offer users a chance to integrate all the possible messages they may receive, whether from Facebook or Twitter, will allow them to make Skype calls (another Microsoft owned service) and predominantly promises to unclutter inboxes. The new service will automatically sift through emails and sort them according to the type of contact. Outlook would also connect to any other service that users maybe on as well as offer web versions of Microsoft’s Office apps.
At present, Microsoft is offering a preview of Outlook to users and existing @hotmail, @msn or @live.com email users will have the option to upgrade to the new service while keeping their email suffixes while also having the option of getting an @outlook tag.
The new service is being seen as a direct rival to Google’s Gmail and even in the blog, Microsoft hinted that it would be different from other email services saying that it would not peruse user’s emails to sell information to others.