Just when you thought Hotmail stood no chance in the competition, Microsoft brings Outlook — the new and improved Hotmail. It is a huge makeover from the original Hotmail. Simple, neat and with a better understanding of what users need are some of the features that you notice at first sight in this new product. Outlook has already had around 1 million sign-ups, which is a large number even for Microsoft. It is hard to say that Outlook will dethrone Gmail altogether but it sure will give Gmail a tough time before it goes down.
Microsoft has brought an attractive integration of Skype and Office products in Outlook. A better classification system (automatic) has made the search of mails an easier task. For example when I get mails from OLXIndia, Myntra, Snapdeal and so on, my mail classifies them based on certain attributes in the mail content. If it looks shipping or bills related, it is automatically tagged so. This makes it easier to search for a specific mail. We do have filters to do the job in Gmail itself, but Outlook does it automatically. Also instead of filters, Outlook offers rules which are pretty much like filters in Gmail but easier to use. Google has done an impressive job of keeping the world’s information with them, but it must do a better job of organizing personal information for the end user as well.
Outlook also has an integrated Facebook chat which will help users to shift over easily. Even ‘Google Drive’ has a counterpart in Outlook, the ‘Skydrive’ which offers a 7GB free storage space. Outlook has matched almost every key feature that Gmail currently has and made it easier for the user to get used to it.
Wake up Gmail!
Gmail is currently a data warehouse of information. You can find everybody’s personal and work related information on it. But still, over the past few years you can’t find any major changes in the page. Sure, the ‘Priority Inbox’ was once such feature but personally, I really don’t find it that useful. SSL (Secure Socket Layer — a protocol for encrypting information) was a feature that brought about a major change to the mail security. They need to bring in more to the mail. Google needs to answer Microsoft’s tap on their door. Over the years we have seen Google bringing the Chrome OS, challenging other operating systems, and Google+ challenging other social networks. This time they have to taste their own medicine as someone steps into their own turf. What will Google do?
Personally, I find Outlook a very good product but still Microsoft has just matched everything that Gmail currently offers. For people to completely shift from Gmail to Outlook, they will have to bring far more innovative and interesting features.