Recently, we talked about how we’ve reimagined cloud services for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. And we described new apps for Windows 8, updates to SkyDrive, and how cloud services power the new Office Preview, We’ve also been hard at work on a mission to reimagine personal email – from the datacenter all the way to the user experience. Today, we’re starting to deliver on that goal with a preview of the new Outlook.com – modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes.
Webmail was first introduced with HoTMaiL in 1996. Back then, it was novel to have a personal email address you could keep for life – one that was totally independent from your business or internet service provider. Eight years later, Google introduced Gmail, which included 1 GB of storage and inbox search. And while Gmail and other webmail services like Hotmail have added some features since then, not much has fundamentally changed in webmail over the last 8 years – though yesterday’s frustrations about the small size of inboxes are now things of the past. At the same time, email is becoming less and less useful as inboxes become cluttered with newsletters and social updates, and people increasingly keep up their personal connections in social networks instead of their email address books. All of this has led many to hope for a better solution so you don’t have to settle for today’s webmail.
It’s Time for a Change
We think the time is right to reimagine email. So today, we’re introducing a preview of Outlook.com. We realized that we needed to take a bold step, break from the past and build you a brand new service from the ground up. You already know Outlook via the Outlook desktop application-for PCs and Macs-as the world’s most popular application for reading email, managing a calendar, and connecting to people. And you may have used the Outlook Web App connected to Exchange Server in your organization. Now, in addition to a desktop application and a service for businesses, we’re offering Outlook as a personal email service – Outlook.com.
Modern experience for modern browsers and devices. 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. 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 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.
Connected to friends and co-workers, wherever they are. Over the last several years, social networks have become an incredibly popular place to share and communicate with friends and co-workers. At the same time, email use among people who use social networks actively has continued to increase. We saw an opportunity to make email better by using your connections on social networks to enrich your email experience. And so with the Outlook.com preview, we are 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. And, of course, you are in control of your experience – what you share, the networks you connect to, and your personal information.
Smart and powerful. Today’s inbox is about more than just exchanging mail with the people you know -50% of the email in a typical inbox is newsletters and another 20% is social network updates. This is part of the reason our inboxes are overloaded and we often feel it’s a chore to “do email.” Outlook.com automatically sorts your messages from contacts, newsletters, shipping updates, and social updates, and with our Sweep features you can move, delete and set up powerful rules in a few, simple clicks so you can more quickly get to the email you really want.
People also use email to share photos and work together on documents. So we 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.
Putting you in control. Email is private and confidential, and most folks we’ve talked to want to keep it that way. So we keep your personal email personal. We don’t scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company, and we don’t show ads in personal conversations. We let you decide whether to connect your account to social networks, and which ones you want to use – and you’re in control of who you friend or follow. And, if you’re a power user who wants to really fine tune your inbox, we let you create your own categories, folders, and rules to tailor Outlook.com to your preferences.
And of course Outlook.com comes with the features you’d expect from any email service. Building on our past work with Exchange and Hotmail, we provide an inbox with virtually unlimited storage, industry leading spam protection, and rock solid account protection powered by your Microsoft account. Outlook.com also works great with the Outlook desktop application, and as you’d expect from a personal email service, it’s free.
Get Started Today at Outlook.com
While today’s preview is just the start, Outlook.com is ready now to become your primary email service. We’re expecting millions of people to try it out. Starting today, you can get an @Outlook.com email address, and we’ve also made it easy to get started with your current email address if you want to.
- If you’re a Hotmail customer 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’ll experience it all in the new Outlook.com preview user interface. You can also add an @Outlook.com email address to your account if you want.
- Using Gmail, Yahoo, or another email service? No problem – 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 by following these instructions . This will let you use both services for now, but we think that over time, most people will prefer Outlook.com.
- Don’t have an email address? Go to Outlook.com and create a new one and you’ll be up and running.
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. Have more questions? See our step-by- step guide to setting up Outlook.com on your phone.
Join the Preview and Join the Conversation
Today is the start of our preview, which represents an opportunity to learn together as we roll out and scale this new service. We know your email is important and you need a service that puts you in control, and we’re looking forward to your feedback. Once you’re using the service, just click Feedback in the Outlook.com Options menu and let us know what you think. If you have questions about this post, feel free to leave a comment here on our blog, or join us on Reddit later today where we’re hosting an “Ask me anything” at 11am PST. We have a lot more we’ll be sharing on this blog, and we look forward to continuing this conversation with you.
A lot has changed in the last eight years, and we think it’ time for a fresh look at email – modern, connected, smart, powerful, and in control. So try out the preview at Outlook.com. We think you’ll like what you see.