Microsoft is currently previewing its new modern approach to email called Microsoft Outlook.com. This new service combines all the elements one would expect from a first rate email service. Outlook.com connects you to your social networks like Twitter and Facebook. You can work smarter with online versions of Office web apps and SkyDrive storage for your documents. This does not require you to have a local version of Microsoft Office, by the way. It also sports the fresh Windows 8 tiled design which is very clean and intuitive to use. Outlook.com is a great way to declutter your email experience.
Pictured in the image above, you will notice the new Outlook.com interface. If you look across the top of the image, you will probably notice what isn’t there. As you can see, there is only a small icon labeled “New” with a plus sign beside it. One of the first things the Outlook.com team set out to do was declutter the user interface. The bar at the top is contextual, meaning it doesn’t show you unnecessary options. However, if you click on an email you will be given a set of options at that time. An example of these options is pictured below. You will also notice how nicely all the menu items and individual emails are spaced. This really makes the visual experience of using Outlook.com much easier on the eyes.
Organizing messages in the new Outlook.com is extremely easy. If you look at the picture above, you will notice one of my favorite Outlook.com tools – “Sweep”. The “Sweep” tool has incredible inbox cleaning capabilities. Let’ say for instance, you select a message from a newsletter subscription. Using “Sweep” you can automatically select and delete all similar messages from your inbox. You can also use it to move these messages to a particular folder, or delete all of the old messages and keep only the current one.
One last feature I am totally impressed with is the way Outlook.com handles ads. I know that may be the last thing one would consider, but I consider it a great feature for two reasons. First of all, the ads are very low key and blend in nicely with the rest of the Outlook.com theme. This is truly a “customer’s first” approach to advertising if you ask me. Look at the area highlighted in red in the picture above and you will see what I mean. This is the one of only two places you will see ads in your email. The other is when you view an email that is not a personal contact. They don’t splash pictures everywhere and try to force you into accidental clicks to look at their ads. There is no doubt in my mind that this will affect ad revenue for Microsoft which is why I say this is a “customer’s first” approach.
The second thing that impresses me about Outlook.com’s ads is the way they go about contextualizing the ads for their users. “Why is this so important?” you ask. You may not realize that many online email providers actually read every word of your emails to gather specific information about you. They use this information to target ads toward you. While this is largely done in an automated way, if you’re like me, you have to be concerned about privacy and security. Outlook.com has taken the approach that it will only use the information you give it. As much, or as little, information that you are willing to put on your Outlook.com profile is what is used to generate the context for ads. Outlook.com does not read your emails to gather information about you. This, to me, is a huge benefit for the end user, especially if they are security conscious.
As you can see, there are some great benefits to switching to the new Outlook.com. Take a moment to visit their website and take advantage of their preview.
Outlook.com is a preview of modern email from Microsoft. It has a fresh and intuitive design, connects your email to useful information from Facebook and Twitter, and gives you a smarter inbox with the power of Office and SkyDrive. Visit Outlookpreview.com to learn more and connect with us at @Outlook on Twitter.
Full Disclosure: This was a paid review of Outlook.com and its services. More information can be found about Outlook.com via http://outlookpreview.com.