So with all of the hype surrounding Microsoft’s new Outlook.com webmail system, one has to ask oneself exactly what the benefits are to this new system. Is Outlook.com just another online email service just like the rest? Or is there something unique that distinguishes it from similar systems by Google or Yahoo?
Keep in mind that these are just my personal opinions and I’m sure many would strongly disagree. However, from what I can see there are a few key features which really make Outlook.com stand out from the crowd:
- Outlook.com formats email threads in the tried and true traditional fashion along the lines of how email threads appear in the software-based MS Outlook, or how they appear in Yahoo mail. This is unlike Google’s Gmail, in which Google tried to innovate how email threads happen, but which I just find incredibly annoying.
- Microsoft’s Outlook.com is set to be optimized for mobile devices. This is pretty cool, especially the new automatic folders feature which tries to help you by categorizing your emails into folders. Rumors are that Microsoft is working on a new app for accessing Outlook.com webmail from Android devices. I personally use the Hotmail app for Android from the Google play store and just plug in my new Outlook.com email address, which works great.
- Microsoft bought Skype last year, and apparently has plans to add Skype to the Outlook.com system ‘soon’. I always found that Skype worked much better than Google voice as far as call clarity goes. The fact that MS is planning to integrate my favorite video chat software with my favorite webmail system is really great.
- One huge plus for the new Outlook.com system is that Microsoft has openly stated that it will not be combing through your emails and documents stored in their system. I do really like Gmail, Google+, and Google Docs for its features but it’s always in the back of my mind that whatever I do on the Gmail system is being recorded and processed by their marketing algorithms to 1) try to serve me with ads, and 2) to possibly sell information they have collected from me to unknown third party marketing firms. It just seems strange and intrusive to my privacy how Google unashamedly does this. So I’m very happy that I have Outlook.com as an alternate system where Microsoft has clearly stated that Outlook.com will not be mining my emails and attachments for their marketing team.
- Microsoft added a free version of its MS Office applications last year in order to compete with Google’s Google Docs. This MS Office integration has carried over to the new Outlook.com system and earns two thumbs up in my books. I really like Google Docs, but I also think MS Office is a great system. Furthermore MS Office is used throughout the corporate world and will continue to be mainstream for many years to come. I realize that Google docs is compatible with MS Office format documents, but I have experienced incompatibilities in so called compatible systems before. If I am working on something important then I will prefer to be working in the system that my recipient will be using, which in most cases is MS Office. And just to revisit my earlier point #4: I will always lean to using a system that is not mining my documents for information to sell to third party companies, especially if I am writing a resume or a document that I consider important.
- My final plus point for Outlook.com is more of a feeling of the future more than anything else. Microsoft is pushing towards the Web and mobile technologies in a big way. In this respect Outlook.com will only continue to grow as Microsoft starts building their core software into a more social and networked structure.
That’s pretty much it for my take on the new MS Office Webmail system. I do think it’s a solid contender in this space compared with Google’s Gmail and Yahoo’s mail system and that it has a lot of good things to offer. Furthermore, I believe that Microsoft will continue to develop its online systems and that Outlook.com will increase in importance.
If you are interested in reading more about Microsoft’s new online email system, feel free to have a look at two other articles I wrote on the subject including: