• Microsoft’s Mail Service Rebranding – Goodbye Hotmail, Hello Outlook.com

    Keeping up with my tweet stream this evening, I noticed talk of Microsoft releasing a poor Android App for their Outlook.com service. Now frankly, I couldn’t give two figs about Android consumers moaning about Microsoft not releasing ‘the very best’ interface for a competing platform. For me, that’s just an unreasonable expectation. By example: how’s that Google produced Gmail app working out for Windows Phone 7 consumers? It’s absolutely amazeballs I’m sure. Oh no, wait, it’s redundant as Microsoft had the good sense to weld an excellent Gmail integration into their OS natively rather than allowing handset manufactures to trim it out…

    No, petulant consumer posts aside, I was more interested in the existence of Outlook.com, the replacement for Microsoft’s Hotmail service. As I am clearly late to the party on this one, data on this service is already out there, but here’s a short summary:

    Outlook.com Web Interface

    Outlook.com Web Interface with a Lime Green accent

    • The interface is of the Modern UI style, clean & minimalistic ala Windows Phone. You also get to choose your own colour emphasis , ala Windows Phone (mine’s Lime Green, since you asked)
    • It has less adverts
    • It has enhanced filing facilities allowing use of custom and stock mail categories
    • There’s a people hub for social media integration
    • You will be forced over to it at some undefined point in the future

    I transitioned over to it from Hotmail tonight and I love it, but then I’m probably an outlier. I was using Outlook 2013 during the Release Preview and cut over to RTM version Day One. My partner however hates it when Facebook adds a new bar, or Hotmail adds a button, so God knows what she will make of the complete UI overhaul. Well actually, I already know – she’s had a peek at my console and disdain was her first reaction.

    There’s no accounting for taste (she’s with me after all) but hopefully it will grow on her. Looking at them marketplace implications, I’m sure Microsoft won’t lose many customers over the redesign. People that change adverse aren’t likely to want to go through the disruption of migrating mail service over a mere UI shift. If you’re in that demographic then changing all your logons/accounts is going to be less appealing than learning a new interface.

    In summary, I think Outlook.com is a fantastic effort by Microsoft. The Hotmail interface was looking very staid and was noisy as Hell to boot, all but driving me into a Gmail account 2 years ago. This dramatic reboot can only generate fresh interest in the service, especially among younger folks who demand aesthetically pleasing web experiences. It’s not quite good enough to make me close down my Gmail account, as no professional aliases remained on Outlook.com for me to grab sadly (thanks the 25 million plus early adopters who beat me to it), but it’s good enough to make me switch my primary back to Microsoft.