MANILA, Philippines - Microsoft seems to be doing all the right moves lately.
After unveiling the Surface tablet, the Windows Phone 8, and Windows 8, the company recently unveiled Outlook.com, the company's Web-based email service re-imagined.
Brian Hall, general manager of Windows Live, in an exclusive interview with the Manila Bulletin, dubbed Outlook.com as the "modern email for the next billion mailboxes."
"We've been hard at work on a mission to re-imagine personal email - from the datacenter all the way to the user experience. Today, we're starting to deliver on that goal with a preview of the new Outlook.com - modern email designed for the next billion mailboxes."
Webmail was first introduced with HoTMaiL in 1996. Back then, it was novel to have a personal email address you could keep for life - one that was totally independent from your business or internet service provider. Eight years later, Google introduced Gmail, which included 1 GB of storage and inbox search. And while Gmail and other webmail services like Hotmail have added some features since then, not much has fundamentally changed in webmail over the last 8 years.
Microsoft noted, however, that email is becoming less and less useful as inboxes become cluttered with newsletters and social updates, and people increasingly keep up their personal connections in social networks instead of their email address books.
"We think the time is right to re-imagine email. So today, we're introducing a preview of Outlook.com. We realized that we needed to take a bold step, break from the past and build 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 - Outlook.com."
Outlook is designed cloud first, so all of your mail is always available wherever you are. Its fresh, clean user interface gets the clutter out of your way-the header has 60% fewer pixels and there are 30% more messages visible in your inbox than the webmail most people are used to.
And there are no display ads or large search boxes that take up extra space. Outlook.com also uses Exchange ActiveSync, so it powers your mail, calendar and people experience on your smartphone, tablet, and the new Outlook 2013 Preview.
Outlook.com is also the first email service that is connected to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and soon, Skype, to bring relevant context and communications to everbody's email.
In the Outlook.com inbox, personal email comes alive with photos of friends, recent status updates and Tweets that a friend has shared, the ability to chat and video call - all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is connected to your social networks.
To further de-clutter inboxes, Outlook.com also automatically sorts messages from contacts, newsletters, shipping updates, and social updates, and with its Sweep features move, delete and set up powerful rules in a few, simple clicks.
Microsoft also included free Office Web Apps - Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote - which let you view and edit attachments without leaving your inbox. And Outlook.com comes with SkyDrive, so if you're sending photos, documents, or just about any other file, you can now put them on SkyDrive and stop worrying about attachment limits.
"Email is private and confidential, and most folks we've talked to want to keep it that way. So we keep your personal email personal. We don't scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company, and we don't show ads in personal conversations. We let you decide whether to connect your account to social networks, and which ones you want to use - and you're in control of who you friend or follow. And, if you're a power user who wants to really fine tune your inbox, we let you create your own categories, folders, and rules to tailor Outlook.com to your preferences.
"And of course Outlook.com comes with the features you'd expect from any email service. Building on our past work with Exchange and Hotmail, we provide an inbox with virtually unlimited storage, industry leading spam protection, and rock solid account protection powered by your Microsoft account. Outlook.com also works great with the Outlook desktop application, and as you'd expect from a personal email service, it's free.
People seem to love the software company's newest online offering. Merely six hours after its announcement, more than a million people have signed up to use the service, an official tweet from Microsoft revealed.
The new Outlook now comes with a Metro-inspired theme, the look that is already found on the Windows Phone and is coming to the Windows 8 Start Screen.
Microsoft hopes its Outlook.com refurbishing and rebranding would reignite consumer interest for the Hotmail/Outlook franchise and help the brand regain leadership in the world's Webmail service market, a position it enjoyed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.