/ Technology

Outlook.com set to replace Hotmail – email of the future?

Microsoft is changing its free webmail service, dropping the Hotmail brand name in a bid to reinvent it as Outlook.com. Is it the next step for email, or will Gmail continue to reign over the webmail kingdom?

Microsoft’s blog post introducing the new Outlook.com describes it as ‘modern email for the next billion email boxes’.

The service claims to offer better email filtering, so when an email pops into your inbox Outlook.com sorts your email based on whether it’s a social media alert, a newsletter or just a bog-standard email. Microsoft’s Chris Jones said on the company’s blog post:

‘We realized that we needed to take a bold step, break from the past and build you a brand new service from the ground up.’

What’s new in Outlook.com

The new-look service is clearly designed with mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in mind – no surprises there with Microsoft’s Windows 8 on the horizon.

To that end Outlook.com has (according to Microsoft) 60% fewer pixels in its header and there are 30% more messages visible in your inbox than the webmail most people are used to. So in theory you’ll see more emails when looking at your inbox on a smaller display.

The new look may be more streamlined, but it’s also incredibly dull. It mirrors that of the Outlook inbox used in many offices. And, sorry Microsoft, but when I’m checking personal emails and reading my social updates, the last thing I want to be reminded of is work.

The Outlook name is commonly associated with Outlook and Outlook Express. These are email clients that suck email from the web into an inbox stored on your PC. Recently the Outlook Express client has since been superseded by Windows Live Mail.

There’s a lot of confusion around what is and isn’t an email client, with people confusing Windows Live Mail (the client) and Windows Live Hotmail (webmail). Microsoft’s rebranding of the service – yet again – will cause yet more confusion.

Hotmail members complain of lost accounts

Some people are also reporting problems in the switchover to Outlook.com from Hotmail. Commenting on Microsoft’s blog, Gaurav Tyagi wrote:

‘I made a blunder by switching to Outlook.com and lost my 12 year email [account] I had at MSN.’

Like Gaurav I’ve had my Hotmail account for several years – over 15 – I can’t express how vexed I would be were this to disappear as a part of this transition.

Others have complained that once they sign into Outlook.com for the first time just to check it out, and then go back to Hotmail.com and log in there, they’re automatically presented with the new Outlook… look.

It is possible to revert back to the old Hotmail look. Once logged in via either Hotmail or Outlook.com, click the settings button (shaped like a cog, top-right), scroll down and click ‘switch back to Hotmail’.

I’ve already changed mine back and will be sticking to Hotmail as long as I can. Will you?


We have been getting more and more annoyed with the condition of Weetabix biscuits over many months/years. We rarely get a whole biscuit in a dozen subpack, and there is a quantity of “Dross” equal to nearly two biscuits at the bottom. These conditions are found in all pack sizes, purchased at different supermarkets. Complaints to Weetabix have resulted in coupons and apologies. The experimental plain paper packs made no difference.
However, last week I was in our local Lidl shop and bought a pack of 36 Weetabix and to my surprise, they are perfect biscuits. I have spoken to the manager and he says that they arrive in a pallet and are put on display in their boxes. So is the answer that there is normally too much handling at depots and on the shop floor at other Supermarkets ?

Daz says:
2 August 2012

NIce post, shame it has nothing to do with Outlook!?!?


Hello Mike, thanks for sharing your Weetabix problem – sadly it’s off the topic of this Conversation – Outlook.com. If you’d like to share an idea with us, please contact us here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us Otherwise, please stick to the topic of the debate at hand. Thanks.

Rich says:
3 August 2012

The Weetabix comment has really, REALLY made my day. 🙂

Back on topic, I’ve no interest in using a Microsoft email service. They’re a handful of years too late with this rebrand/redesign.

Next year, it’ll be MSN mail. Then .net mail. Then Live mail. Then MS mail, Windows mail, Windows Live mail, bingmail, blackmail, bankruptmail…


Mike (Weetabix) is probably having problems with the cereal interface on his computer. 🙂

Microsoft software has attracted a great deal of negative comment over the years, but I think it is fair to say that things have improved. I really do see the need for rebranding so that people like us don’t poke fun at the company.

I like your ideas for alternative names for possible future names for Outlook.com, but ‘Blackmail’ is counter-intuitive for a free service. 🙂

Soddem says:
11 August 2012

I has this problem with biscuits. I wrote to the makers and they sorted it out – they promised that, as it is always the end ones in a packet that get crushed, they would leave the end ones out in future. . . .


never did like weetabix – make me gip!


I refuse to have anything to do with free email services. I have heard of too many problems. I will stick with the service provided by my ISP and that provided by my former employer.

Unless you have an unusual name, you will be lucky if you get a sensible email address from the large, free services. The outlook is not good. 🙂


Although I use a paid for email service for my main email addresses, I use free email accounts for anything associated with forums and information websites and always recommend people do the same to reduce the risk of contaminating their main email.

I disagree with Sarah about dull looking email services – the simpler and more basic the better .