The past week has been a big one in the email space. We told you about AOL's big new redesign, and then Google integrated Google+ Hangouts into Gmail. Now, Microsoft is dropping Hotmail in favor of a new, rebranded web mail service based on its other popular email brand: Outlook.com.
The company announced the launch of a preview of the service, which it describes as "modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes."
Here's what it looks like:
Here's a walkthrough of the features:
"Email isn't just about the browser anymore. In fact, email represents 20% of the time we spend on smartphones, and is used extensively on tablets as well as PCs," says Microsoft's Chris Jones in a blog post. "Outlook is designed cloud first, so all of your mail is always available wherever you are. Its fresh, clean user interface gets the clutter out of your way-the header has 60% fewer pixels and there are 30% more messages visible in your inbox that 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."
New users can get an @Outlook.com email address. Users of Hotmail can upgrade their account, and will be able to send/receive email from @hotmail.com, @msn.com or @live.com addresses. Users of other services like Gmail or Yahoo Mail can set up a new @outlook.com address, and have their other accounts forwarded.
There's a mobile set-up guide here.
It will be interesting to see if Outlook.com is able to make a bigger dent in the webmail market for Microsoft.
What do you think of it?