Microsoft today introduced Outlook.com, a new personal email service with a clean look, fewer ads, along with new connections to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Outlook.com has a fresh user interface, which gets the clutter out of your way - the header has 60% fewer pixels and there are 30% more messages visible in your inbox than the webmail most people are used to. And there are no display ads or large search boxes that take up extra space. Outlook.com also uses Exchange ActiveSync, so it powers your mail, calendar and people experience on your smartphone, tablet, and the new Outlook 2013 Preview.
In addition, with the Outlook.com preview, Microsoft is giving you the first email service that is connected to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and soon, Skype, to bring relevant context and communications to your email.
In the Outlook.com inbox, your personal email comes alive with photos of your friends, recent status updates and Tweets that your friend has shared with you, the ability to chat and video call - all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is connected to your social networks. What you share, the networks you connect to, and your personal information is controlled by you.
Outlook.com automatically sorts your messages from contacts, newsletters, shipping updates, and social updates, and with the Sweep features you can move, delete and set up rules in a few clicks.
People also use email to share photos and work together on documents. So Microsoft included free Office Web Apps -- Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote - which let you view and edit attachments without leaving your inbox. And Outlook.com comes with SkyDrive, so if you're sending photos, documents, or just about any other file, you can now put them on SkyDrive and stop worrying about attachment limits.
Microsoft says is does not scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company, and is doesn't show ads in personal conversations.
And of course Outlook.com comes with the features expected from any email service. Building on its past work with Exchange and Hotmail, Microsoft provides an inbox with virtually unlimited storage, spam protection, and solid account protection powered by Microsoft accounts. Outlook.com also works with the Outlook desktop application, and of course it's free.
Starting today, you can get an @Outlook.com email address. If you're a Hotmail user and want to upgrade to the Outlook.com preview, just click "Upgrade" in the options menu of Hotmail. Your email address, password, contacts, old email, and rules will remain unchanged, and you can send/receive email from your @hotmail.com or @msn.com or @live.com address. You can also add an @Outlook.com email address to your account if you want.
If you are using Gmail, Yahoo, or another email service, it's easy to try the preview by going to http://www.outlook.com/. If you have a Microsoft account, just log in and get started. If you don't, it's easy to create a new account with an @Outlook.com email address. Then you can set up Gmail or your other email service to forward your mail to Outlook.com and import your contacts and messages. This will let you use both services.
Once you're using Outlook.com, you can also set it up on your phone (Windows Phone, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or other phone), tablet (Windows 8, iPad, and Android), in the new Outlook 2013 Preview, or in other mail apps you might use. And because Outlook.com supports Exchange ActiveSync, you can set it up just like you would your Exchange or Hotmail account.