Microsoft (News - Alert) has reinvented itself as an email hosting service provider in a big way with Outlook.com, a new service that has been open to the public since the end of July.
Microsoft‘s Outlook.com is a full-featured e-mail and collaboration client that is available online. Rather than having the latest Outlook product installed on the user's computer, this Web-based email hosting platform is convenient for those that do not have access to Office Outlook or who use multiple computers. It is also ideal for those who are mobile and must work on-the-go.
At Outlook.com, registered users can interact directly with their e-mail messages either from a PC or mobile connection from anywhere, at any time. Additionally, users are offered plenty of Web-based e-mail action from sending, replying, forwarding, and so on. It also allows users to directly open attached Office documents and save them to SkyDrive, Microsoft’s file hosting service, if they like via Outlook.com where users are offered seven GB of free storage.
This site presents several unique features: For example, the reading pane feature allows users to quickly preview messages without having to open them in full view mode; active view offers simplicity of viewing attachments or to preview content like photos and videos right on the reading pane without having to navigate and visit the websites; conversation and pre-load messages provides the ability to automatically group send and receive e-mails as well as speed up e-mail by downloading them when users are viewing them; and the built-in social networking capabilities allow users to tap into a social media service like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (News - Alert) to check the messages on their account without having to actually go to the site. It is also able to imports social information of e-mail senders.
Outlook.com is said to be a rebranded version of Microsoft's Hotmail and Windows Live Mail. This is a completely new, built-from-scratch service, which may just stand up against longtime favorite Gmail as an e-mail service provider.
Not only does Outlook.com offer a clean design and a user-friendly interface (said to be better than Gmail's UI), it permits access to Office Web Apps, an online version of MS word, Excel and PowerPoint through Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud services or by means of Microsoft’s Hotmail, for free.
The technology giant also claims its new Web service outshines Gmail when it comes to unwanted messages like newsletters, daily deals and ads as there are limited ads and no display banners in e-mails at Outlook.com.
Recently, Microsoft expanded its user base even more by developing an Outlook app for Android (News - Alert) that is available for free in the Google Play store and runs on all devices using Android 2.x and above. By bringing Outlook to Android devices, the adopted app may just help convince computer users to switch to Outlook for e-mail over Google's (News - Alert) Gmail service.
Those that have tried Outlook.com thus far are pleased. There have been many positive reviews from users and currently, the site has surpassed 25 million users.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein