Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Outstanding Online Outlook

The amazing new Microsoft Outlook was released a few days ago to replace hotmail and live.

For the past couple of years it has been embarrassing owning a hotmail account as the mail website was outdated and slow. The old website was confusing to work as it had too many hyper-links and unnecessary options however in the new outlook this has been solved.
The factor which probably sparked the transformation of hotmail is new Windows tablet computers coming out soon. This brings a need for websites to have big text and easy-to-use hyper-links (so people with clumsy fingers don't click them by accident. Like what would have happened with the old hotmail).

To start using the new outlook go to the Microsoft homepage and follow the links to the new Outlook page. Then you have acsess to all of the new features. If you want, this also allows you to change your email domain from live.com or hotmail.com to outlook.com (although it doesn't matter either way).

Apart from the new Outlook email, there is a new contacts page called ‘People’. However the Windows Live calender has not been updated. And although in the options menu there is a Skydrive link, it still takes you to the old Skydrive page which hopefully will be updated soon too.

All the new pages use the fonts and design of Windows 8 which is coming out during October. This is probably because Microsoft is trying to make all of it's products look the same which is understandable so people will instantly recognise it.

Microsoft has finally made a Outlook mobile site and like the new desktop version it is based around simplicity. The site has a slight resemblance of the Windows Phone mail app which is good because it makes the g-mail mobile site look stone age.

The Outlook page it's self has your new e-mails in a list in the middle of the screen with Outlook tips filling the column to the right and your folders on the left. With a simple drag and drop you can move e-mails into a folder which is helpful. The new chat is in the top right of the page and it allows you message people over Facebook or Windows Live. Unlike the old chat, it looks good and it doesn't get in the way.
With a click of a button you can also view all of your emails with a photo attachment, or with a document attached. This is a efficient way to find the email you need.
If you click on an e-mail from a person who has their account synced with 'People' then it shows you their latest social updates down the right hand column. See something you like there, you can easily like the status or twitter reply to them straight from the panel.
When you send a photo using Outlook it gives you the option to send it through Skydrive so you also have a version of the photo on the web. When reviving pictures through outlook they display quickly at the top of the email so you don't need to click 'download images' or sign into anything.

If you want to use Outlook however you have another type of e-mail account from someone like gmail or yahoo, it is really simple to redirect your emails to Outlook and move all of your contacts information. You can even send emails out of Outlook using one of your other accounts.

The main competition for this e-mail system is g-mail and with the recent launch of Google+, Google is integrating gmail with the social network so you can video chat to people. However most people use Skype or Face-time to video chat and to be honest with you, I also find video chats awkward and much prefer messaging people. But if you do like to video chat, the new Outlook is Skype integrated.

The new 'People' page allows you to have your contacts synced with Twitter and Facebook. With people, I expected to see a social stream from all of my social networks I had connected however, hopefully this will be added soon.
I like the fact that you can mention someone on Twitter directly from their contact page however I still think that Microsoft needs to integrate the Twitter direct messenger into Windows Phone and 'People'.

I'm a bit disappointed that 'People' doesn't Sync with my Windows Phone contacts and groups. I spent ages on my Windows Phone linking my friends Twitter and Facebook accounts together and now they are separated again on Outlook. Also, on my Windows Phone I a group with my family in and on Outlook it is not there.

Although the Skydrive page stays the same, if you edit your word documents, excel spreadsheets or powerpoint presentations in the Web App you now have the power to share the document with your colleagues or friends. Although the Microsoft Web Apps are made to look like they use the newest version of Microsoft Office, they seem overly complicated for the web and I find it a bit confusing. If you want a good way to edit documents online, Google Drive is definitely the place to go.
However Skydrive has recently released a new software for your PC or Mac. This software makes a new folder in your computer called 'Skydrive' which you can then save documents into. They then sync to the web or any other Skydrive computers logged on as you.
I've been using this feature and I think it is a brilliant tool. It saves the stress logging onto Skydrive on the web and uploading it though there. This saves time and effort and I would defiantly recommend it to people, even if they don't even use Skydrive that much.

In conclusion, the new Outlook is awesome and people will like it because it has a clean and fresh look which is unique to any other e-mail system.