As Microsoft’s ‘Live’ branding continues to die out, Hotmail (more recently known as Windows Live Mail) becomes the latest to receive the simplicity social treatment. Over the next few months, be prepared to switch to the already well known ‘Outlook’. Yes, I did just say Outlook.
Originally launched in 1996, Hotmail has amassed a large portfolio of users, totalling just over 325 million. You might not realise it, but that also makes it the largest email service in the world, with others such as Gmail, trailing behind in the 200 million zone.
However, Gmail and even the likes of Apple Mail are starting to creep up on Microsoft’s former domain, putting strain upon the market share that they once dominated. Seemingly, the rebranding of Hotmail into Outlook is another attempt at overhauling the clunky user interfaces that have plagued Microsoft in the last few years, and driven a pilgrimage to other clients. In fact, you’ll notice that it’s almost a return to 90′s style web browsing.
Very un-90′s though is the addition of social networking into the client, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft’s recently acquired Skype. Just how these will play a role is yet to be seen, but this could well be the underlying body of Microsoft’s long rumoured social network, which has still yet to be revealed.
Among some of the new features included is the ability for the client to automatically group ‘Newsletters’. For instance, if you subscribe to a Macworld newsletter, WhatCulture or even TIME, you receive daily bulletins informing you of what’s happening in the world. The updated Outlook will automatically gather these into a ‘reading-style’ list, similar to that used in Gmail.
Whether this is going to help the ever flailing Microsoft is another question, but they certainly hope it will.