Microsoft introduced a preview version of a fresh and inventive webmail service it called Outlook.com last August, since then it was pretty clear that the intention was to start winding down its venerable Hotmail sooner or later.
Microsoft announced today that its new webmail service, Outlook.com, is coming out of beta testing and is now ready for primetime. The service was first announced last July, and now it has 60 million users and will replace Hotmail, Microsoft's older webmail system. Microsoft's Hotmail was originally MSN Hotmail, it has been online since 1997.
More than 300 million users have been moved gradually to the new mail service. They will still be able to keep their Hotmail account, or Live or MSN if that's what they've got, but the Hotmail service and brand will be going away.
The company is announcing that Outlook.com is coming out of preview mode and is now officially available worldwide. And so it's going to start moving more than 300 million Hotmail users over. They'll be able to keep their Hotmail.com e-mail addresses — or Live.com or MSN.com, if that's what they've got — but the Hotmail service and brand will be going away. So the users will get a new user interface and all the new features of Outlook.com. Microsoft expects the upgrades for Hotmail users to be complete by this summer.
"Microsoft seems to be serious about winning over lots more users from Gmail and other services: It's planning to advertise Outlook.com heavily in all sorts of media. The company has posted a couple of splashy TV spots, both of which are devoted to making people feel good about Outlook.com rather than bad about Gmail", said Harry McCracken for Time Tech.
Microsoft gives more Outlook features now that the service is out of preview mode, including Skype video calls and a calendar, both of which the company first promised when it announced the service last year.
Google goes through every Gmail that's sent or received, looking for keywords so they can target Gmail with paid ads. And there's no way to opt out of this privacy invasion. "Outlook.com is different, we don't go through your email to sell ads", Microsoft said.
Microsoft hopes Outlook’s approach to advertising will also help set it apart. Outlook isn’t adopting Gmail’s revenue-generating technology, which scans e-mail for keywords and displays ads which are allegedly relevant. Instead, it uses the space to the right of your messages to display information about your contacts drawn from Facebook and Twitter.