Microsoft goes gunning for Gmail with web-based email service

Microsoft has announced, a free, web-based email service that clearly has its sites set on Google's hugely popular Gmail service. Of course, Microsoft already has Hotmail, who's very name meant HTML mail (HoTMail), and, but they've never been shy about multiple, seemingly redundant offerings. But this seems different. Rather than doubling up, seems to be a new layer -- a way to offer something new without forcing old users to just take it. According to the Office blog (opens in new tab):

We think the time is right to reimagine email. So today, we're introducing a preview of 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 -

Microsoft is competing based on a few key features -- clean, informational dense, Metro-inspired design, social connectivity with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google, (with Skype to follow), Office web-app integration, NO ADS, and, of course, and easy way to move your existing mail over, should you choose to do so. And they'll even give you 7GB of SkyDrive storage for your attachment pleasure.

I've been trying it out for most of the day and it certainly is clean and Metro-esque, though more in the way Office 2013 is Metro-esque than Windows Phone is -- existing paradigms with flat color and lots of white space. Still, with frequent Google and Gmail mentions, and a couple YouTube embeds (see below), Microsoft is certainly being open and embracing.

That's smart.

If you want to try it out, head on over to and sign in with your existing Microsoft account, or create a new email address. (Act quickly if you're using the latter option -- screen names go fast!).

If you want to set it up on your iPhone or iPad, simply jump into Settings, Mail, Hotmail, and add your email address and password, and you're good to go.

Based on my experience so far, is really solid. I won't be abandoning iCloud or Gmail any time soon. How about you?

Source: Office blog (opens in new tab) via WPCentral

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I am thoroughly impressed with what Microsoft is doing.
  • It's very nice, thanks for the heads up, I was able to get the email name I wanted.
  • Set up fine. When I checked out the option of reading other mail in the account, it told me to upgrade my browser. How do you upgrade an iPad Sarfari browser? MS is just upgrading Hotmail into Outlook. It does look clean.
  • Wow. Microsoft seems to be slowly getting the Internet thing.
    Will wonders never cease?
  • Wow what an improvement. I can now view my hotmail on the web again; I guess it's outlook now though. Looks really good.
  • I signed up and the interface is very nice, and clean. It's also nice to get in on the ground floor with a decent name rather than the name your want followed by 5 random numbers. I will be sticking with gmail for now for day to day use, but options are good.
  • yeah i hella hoarded all the names i wanted, well only two but i wanted them on gmail and they were gone so i hustled up and got them. I'm still using gmail though lol.
  • Looks very good. I was happy to be able to grab my preferred email name. However, it will be tough to drag me away from gmail.
  • I signed up and got... Hotmail. Has this happened to anyone else?
  • Yea I have that issue too. I tried to find and answer, but no luck. One thing I read was that you had to be on windows 7 or 8 (I'm still using vista), but I can't imagine that's right since its web based. Another said something about cookies/cache messing it up of you have a university based email through exchange...I was too lazy to clean anything up to see if it worked haha.
  • what the imap settings so i can add this on my iphone ?
  • You can add aliases too, everyname I wanted was available. So cool.
  • Same here. Glad I saw this new outlook thing this morning. I got about 5 aliases that I wanted - all available. Names are going fast. Most people trying now will probably be SOL...
  • I just added 2 more for good measure lol
  • I'll be sticking with GMail, I think. It seem's nice enough, but not for me.
  • The clean look is long overdue and I appreciate the ad-free email. But really, it's too little too late. I've moved on and graduated to a private email address. And gmail is possibly the best example of abusing user's private information and data. If only the fandroid sheep would wake up.
  • It took a bit of getting used to but I really like the new interface. The only thing I'm not too sure about is the chat. The font is huge & it takes up the entire right pane.
  • NO ADS?!? So what would you call those things lined up along the right side showing products??