Microsoft has quietly introduced the cloud based system called outlook.com, which is basically designed to compete with Google’s Gmail online system. As it turns out, it seems that outlook.com isn’t really new, but rather a renamed version of Microsoft’s Hotmail online product. In the user community, the Hotmail name has a negative connotation and as such it doesn’t surprise anyone that Microsoft chose to rename it as Outlook.com since almost everyone in the business world uses Outlook as their main productivity application.
Since getting an account with Outlook.com is free, I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. First, the email interface was very user friendly and clean. It sports the new “metro” look that Microsoft is moving towards with their phones, tablets, and PC operating systems. What’s especially nice for Android users, is that you can access your Outlook.com email as a Microsoft Exchange Server and get push email (like you can do with Gmail).
Outlook.com also has a calendar system that’s comparable to Google Calendar (and through Exchange you can sync your calendar events also with your Android device). The ecosystem is also tied to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which allows you to create and edit Word/Excel/Powerpoint documents. I was particularly impressed with how well the online version of Excel worked in a browser, much better than Google’s Sheets.
So will I switch from Google Gmail and Calendar over to Outlook.com’s– the jury is still out. I haven’t decided to go through the steps of making the conversion, but I will keep an eye on Microsoft’s new system just in case it has some new features I can’t live without!