Earlier this week, Microsoft (News - Alert) revealed that it has dropped its Web-based email hosting client, Hotmail, in favor of the new cloud-based Outlook service. Outlook integrates Facebook (News - Alert) and Linkedin right into the dashboard, adding that social aspect that has become so popular across many applications.
The major selling point here isn’t social integration or email hosting though, it’s the fact that Office Web apps are now included (for free) with the service, which just introduced some fierce competition for Google (News - Alert) Drive.
Probably one of the biggest drawbacks in making the switch from Microsoft Word to Google’scloud-based suite is the unfamiliarity and slight learning curve. Microsoft Office has been the single most popular productivity suite of apps since its conception, it’s what people are used to, and it’s likely that a decent amount of Google Docs users have abandoned Word just to have that cloud functionality. Now that Microsoft has essentially put a fully functional version of not just word but the whole Office suite on the Web free of charge, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if a notable amount of users dropped Drive in favor of Outlook.
At the same time though, people aren’t always thrilled about entire layout changes. For a great deal of users who only wanted an email hosting service, Hotmail changed overnight to an overload of Web apps and cloud-based services. It’s like Microsoft is forcing its services on its users, like it or not. Not everyone needs, nor do they want, an arsenal of productivity tools and social sharing integration within their basic email hosting plan, so that could cause an equal amount of disruption to what the introduction of said services could cause for Google Drives’ business crowd.
Hotmail was undoubtedly becoming dated though, so what Microsoft could have done to keep everyone happy is roll out an entry-level email hosting platform for the folks who don’t care to have the full productivity suite, and the more powerful Outlook platform for the business crowd.
But when it comes down to it, this is how the Internet and technology have been evolving for some time -- just look at thenewDigg.com. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time, so the company has to look at what will attract more users – even if that means losing a small percentage of longtime Hotmail users.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein