Microsoft has today announced Outlook.com, an e-mail service built on top of the well-known name from the company’s Office suite. At some point, Outlook.com will replace Hotmail.com, but at the moment users are free to use either or – your e-mail will exist in both. In that regard, you can consider Outlook.com to be just a new interface.
This move has been a long-time coming, and I believe it to be a smart move on Microsoft’s part. The popularity of its Outlook e-mail client can’t be understated, so it makes all the sense in the world that its Web counterpart share the same name. Those who use Outlook at work will feel more comfortable using Outlook at home – and chances are the interoperability between both the site and client will attract some people to the service.
A couple of features Microsoft touts with Outlook.com is a clean design (I’m impressed; it looks excellent), built-in slideshows (when e-mails contain more than one image), built-in chat (think Google Talk in Gmail), the ability to edit documents you were sent right in your browser, the ability to connect easier to other people and of course, built-in Skype support.
If you’re a Hotmail user and want to convert to Outlook.com, there should be an “Upgrade” button somewhere on the site to do so. You might also simply be able to visit Outlook.com and then view your e-mail that way. In time, all Hotmail users will be invited to move over to the service, which means that Hotmail in time will be shut down. However, if you already have an @hotmail.com e-mail address, that will always remain; it’ll simply redirect to Outlook.
If you give the service a good test, let us know how you make out!