Hello Outlook, Goodbye Hotmail

One million people and counting have switched to Outlook since Microsoft announced that it was retiring its Hotmail brand. This could be the most disruptive thing to happen to email since Gmail offered a roomier inbox.

A preview of the service launched on Tuesday, giving Hotmail’s 300 million monthly users a look at the new interface when they logged into their accounts. It’s bold, blocky, and blue — and it loads quickly.

On the new Outlook, users can import their contacts from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google and add them to their instant messaging lists.

Microsoft will also include Office Web Apps, SkyDrive, and Skype in its email service, following Google’s model of integrating multiple products into Gmail.

A genius move, really. Hotmail has survived simply because people don’t want the hassle of moving their contacts and changing their handles, especially if they have their own names for an email address. And like Google, Microsoft has excellent productivity tools to work with.

Explained Microsoft in an email to users:

Using the lessons we’ve learned from both consumers and enterprises, it’s our goal to become the very best email service anywhere. That is a big statement – but one we are absolutely committed to deliver upon. That journey starts today.

Current Hotmail customers can choose to keep their old addresses or switch over to new ones. Computerworld has a good tutorial on how to switch to an @outlook.com address.

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