26/04/2013 16:15 | By Matt Farrington-Smith, editor, MSN Tech

Microsoft launches the new Hotmail - say hello to Outlook.com

Upgrade your Hotmail email account to the new Outlook.com service

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How to upgrade to Outlook.com
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If you happen to log into Hotmail.com today you'll be in for a bit of a surprise.

Outlook.com is a new personal email service that reimagines the way that people use email. It offers a cleaner look, with fewer and less obtrusive ads to boot, plus it offers more powerful integration with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Chris Jones, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Live says "we think the time is right to reimagine personal email, from the datacenter to the user experience."

Do I get to keep my old email address?
Yes. If you currently have a @Hotmail, @msn.com, @windowslive or @live address - you can keep it. The only thing that changes is the URL needed to access your mail - that being Outlook.com


Hello, and welcome to Outlook

Microsoft have pushed the button on their big reimagining of the popular Hotmail email service, as today Outlook.com gets an official launch after being in preview since last summer. Outlook.com represents the first major improvement to cloud mail in eight years, and it builds off the power of Outlook that people have long used on both PCs and Macs.

If you're an existing Hotmail user you'll be able to upgrade to the new Outlook.com immediately. Of course you'll be given the option to rename your existing @hotmail.com address to the new @outlook.com, or if you prefer - add an additional alias to your old account. If you are new to the fold you too can pick an @outlook.com email address and take a tour of the new service.

In one particularly early review Slate.com describe the overhauled service as "the best reason yet to ditch Gmail". We'll leave that comment open to interpretation - why not see what you make of it?

Outlook.com shows-off a clean modern design.

A clean, modern design

Visit Outlook.com and you'll immediately notice the sleek new design; the simple accents, eye-pleasing font and abundance of white space. This is important because we no longer just catch-up on our emails in a browser - nowadays we'll spend just as much time composing and checking mail on our phone (or tablet). So it's important for your Outlook experience to go with you and be available across all your devices.

And if you think the design looks familiar, you'd be right. Outlook.com appears to have utilised the same design philosophy that is apparent throughout all of Microsoft's modern products (be that Windows Phone, Windows 8, Office 2013 or the Xbox LIVE dashboard).

No ads, more space

In a masterstroke Microsoft have made sure to clear all of that unnecessary clutter, that plagues 'ye Hotmail of old - out of the way. Outlook.com's header contains 60% fewer pixels (which means more space) and by-and-large 30% more messages visible in your inbox than we've traditionally been used to. The best thing however is the revelation that there are no display ads or large search boxes to hamper that extra space.

Preview the new Hotmail - Outlook.com

Access your email, anywhere

Outlook.com is designed for the modern world and utilises the many benefits of cloud storage, so all of your mail is always available wherever you are.

But what of the technology behind the scenes?

Outlook.com makes use of Exchange ActiveSync, so it powers your mail, calendar and people experience on your smartphone, tablet, and the new Outlook 2013.

Connect Facebook and Twitter

Connect and see your friends' Facebook updates and Tweets directly in your inbox, in-fact Outlook.com is the first email service to offer such a feature to this degree. LinkedIn updates, as well as content from Google and soon, Skype, can also be found here. Your contacts' information is automatically in-sync with the cloud so you don't miss a thing.

Chat and (Skype) video calling

Outlook.com will soon offer the ability to chat and video call via the power of Skype. At the moment (and during the preview) you were limited to sending instant messages to your contacts via the medium of Messenger and Facebook.

With regards to Skype - you won't have to worry about fumbling for telephone numbers ever again as you can pick contacts straight out of an always up-to-date contact list that (again) is connected to your social networks.

New Outlook.com email preview.

Powerful free Office tools

People also use email to share photos and work together on documents, so Microsoft has included its suite of free Office Web Apps.

Office Web Apps are made up of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, all of which let you view and edit attachments without leaving your inbox. Outlook.com is also connected to your personal SkyDrive which makes sending photos, documents (or pretty much anything) a doddle. SkyDrive has the added benefit of eliminating the need for fiddly email attachments too.

How to upgrade to Outlook.com
'Superior to Gmail in many ways' - what the critics are saying

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