Sunday, August 5, 2012
Sometime last week, Microsoft, without any prior announcement, released a new email service, Outlook.com though they already have Hotmail up and in service. Outlook is a kind of an upgrade from Hotmail to a better email service. Though not in its final version, Microsoft has termed outlook as a “preview” of modern mail from Microsoft. (The word modern is intentionally italicized here because in the modern times, no one uses email much anymore).
If you already own a hotmail account, or in that case, any Microsoft or live account, then you can sign up for Outlook by heading over to Outlook.com and signing in to your account, where you can further create an email ID for outlook, which disables your hotmail email ID (you can still receive mails from it though) , and you end up having a @outlook.com email address.
So this leads to the inevitable question. What does this have that Gmail does not?
A Clean Interface!
Gmail uses just white, black and loads of gray with occasional red in its interface, which you cannot change, except for the labs add-ons though which you can change your theme. Outlook meanwhile uses a clutter free Windows 8 like Slide interface, which looks just like its newer mobile and desktop OS, having metro slides.
Gmail has three types of interfaces – compact, comfortable and cozy for different screen sizes and the compact version of it is too revolting to work at, and would give any web designer eye sores.
Both the interfaces look good, but on frequent usage, the Outlooks interface works better in the longer run, as compared to Gmail’s shabby yet OK looking email UI.
Back in the days when Gmail was launched, everyone ported over to Gmail because it was so darn quick, fast, responsive and well… fast! But years later, after having the biggest database of email accounts, it grew a bit slow. Only a bit.
The relatively new Outlook is very responsive, quick and snappy. You can navigate flawlessly throughout it interface, without even experiencing 3 seconds of lag – which is kind of common phenomenon in Gmail (with the internet connection speed of 1MBps).
Though both of them – Gmail and Outlook don't do real time access, outlook still manages to be faster than Gmail, by a margin of a few precious seconds at the very least.
Socializing in Email
After the launch of Google+, you can post statuses while in Gmail, manage your circles, etc, but only on Google+, and Google+ only. Since Google+ and Facebook are competitors, Google ignored to integrate with Facebook or even twitter, and therefore, is entirely left out of the scenario.
Outlook on the other hand, integrates with Facebook and also with Twitter. (I couldn’t see twitter yesterday, but as of today, even twitter is included in it. It works pretty smoothly).
Within outlook, you can now chat with Facebook friends, tweet, and also see photos, status updates and more, inside outlook. That is pretty exciting enough for me to term it as a truly modern email experience. It even allows you to connect to LinkedIn, Flicker, YouTube, etc.
Another really awesome (yes, awesome!) feature in Outlook is that if someone sends you an email, outlook automatically searches the internet and gets public information about the sender of the email from various social websites, which works even more admirably if you are signed into these networks.
Gmail on the other hand sticks with Google+ which is basically a ghost town which no one apparently uses, except for Google fan boys.
Gmail offers 10 GB of email storage, whereas Outlook does not put any restrictions to the number of emails you can store. As simple as that. This wont matter much to the masses, but would be a cost saving decision for any business.
Attaching files has also been made easier, and you also get thumbnail previews of the files which you are uploading. Meanwhile in Gmail, you have to struggle to upload a single file via email. (The compose screen of Outlook is a thousand times better than that of Gmail).
So, Should I switch?
Outlook manages to beat Gmail in every corner, leading to the inevitable question, should I switch from Gmail to outlook? it entirely depends on you.
But if I were you, I would hold my reins and wait for sometime, probably for two months or so, and see what outlook offers additionally extra than these mentioned above. Outlook is still in its preview stage and though it works flawlessly, there may be some bugs (Hint:Its Microsoft), so it wouldn’t be that wise to switch to something immediately.
Additionally, Microsoft should make it more convenient for people to port over from their email provider to Outlook, like a POP3 or IMAP feature that Gmail offers (one of my favorite feature of Gmail). Since Outlook is from Microsoft, the future versions of Windows or Office is definitely going to have at least one linkage to Outlook.com, which makes life sweeter for you.
So should you switch? No. Not yet. Not now. Maybe later, but not now.