Microsoft's new Hotmail successor takes email back to the basics

Between all the tweeting, liking and text messaging we do, who really wants to look at all the junk in email? Microsoft new Outlook.com email (not the same as its Outlook email app) is a completely rethought take on webmail that cuts the ad bloat of Hotmail and focuses on functionality.

It isn't happening today, and it won't happen overnight, but eventually, the new @outlook.com (henceforth referred to as Outlook) webmail service will replace @hotmail.com, @msn.com and @live.com email accounts.

That's a good thing, because Microsoft's new Outlook is quite a looker and useful, too.

As webmail services have peaked over the last decade, companies such as Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have managed to turn email's simple and light interface into a vomit of information filled with overbearing advertisements, unsightly menus and links, and downright ugly interfaces.

Outlook follows in Microsoft's UI overhaul initiated by Windows Phone's Metro interface. What you get is a toned down email service that puts what you need front and center, hides what you don't want to see, and shoves advertisements into clearly marked spaces on the far right.

Why You Should Try Outlook

One of the biggest pros to use Outlook is the People hub, a feature that makes the jump from Windows Phone. If you allow it, Outlook can integrate all of your Twitter and Facebook contacts and let you post on a friend's wall, instant message and view photos and tweet from within the webmail. Additionally, when you receive emails from a contact, their statuses from their various social networks will also be displayed.

Another notable feature is "QuickView" — an automatic filing system that sorts that sorts your emails into smart categories. For example, if you have emails with PDFs and spreadsheets attached, it'll magically sort into the Documents folder. Same for photos, shipping updates from delivery services, etc. The best part is you can create your own QuickView folders.

But wait, there's more. Beyond the fact that the main window displays more emails at a glance than Gmail, there's also a nice little tidying feature that filters all of your newsletters into a folder. That means all of those annoying email lists you sign up for or all of those social couponing sites you get blasted with 20 emails a day go right in.

All in all, Outlook is a pleasure to use and a huge improvement for email and webmail as a whole. It's less stressful to look at and use, and isn't that what matters the most? Because nobody wants to spend all day figuring out how to use email. It should be a simple as clicking a big, bright and prominent button to compose a new message. With Outlook, it is.

You can start using Outlook by logging in with their Hotmail or Live accounts right now.

Via Outlook

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