After many, many years of Hotmail (and “Live” to a lesser extent) being the bread and butter of Microsoft’s consumer email strategy, Microsoft is moving on to greener pastures. They are rebranding their email service under the Outlook name, and it is turning some heads.
[quote]The world’s largest software company is renaming its Hotmail service Outlook, giving it a sharp new look, social network links, and new features for handling the tide of junk and mass mail that swamps many users[…] In a bid to recapture growth, Microsoft is renaming the service Outlook, a name familiar to most corporate workers who use Microsoft’s Office email application, and sprucing up the whole experience. Hotmail users will be prompted to switch over to the new service over the next few months.[/quote]
I was very interested in seeing what they have to offer. I have a Live account (Mainly for my Xbox 360), so I tried to log in. I was hit with a CAPTCHA. After trying multiple times with multiple browsers to get through the CAPTCHA, I tried the audio version. That’s even worse. It is completely unintelligible. So while I’d love to tell you that the service is super awesome, I wouldn’t really know. All I can do is view my inbox. When I try to do anything useful, the CAPTCHA sits there and laughs at me.
The metro-inspired look is nice, though. Even though it is as far away from Apple’s email web interface as possible, it has a pleasant aesthetic. It would be nice if Google would take a page out of Microsoft’s playbook here. Gmail is uglier than sin, and they clearly are trying for a similar feel that Microsoft pulled off very effectively. This is a prime example of why the Surface has piqued my interest while the Nexus 7 continues to bore the ever-loving daylights out of me: attention to design.