/ 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 Recently the Outlook Express client has since been superseded by Windows Live Mail.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. 🙂

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 .

Francois says:
3 August 2012

Yes, you can click the “switch back” link, but you will not be able to log in again with your MSN.COM account anywhere. Even after you revert back, your PRIMARY login will be your newly migrated OUTLOOK.COM address. This obviously causes massive ripple effect with other mobile logins / messenger etc. I can still receive mail to my MSN account, but essentially, it’s a ONE WAY migration with the ‘accidental’ click of a button. Nice one MS!

Kathy says:
5 August 2012

I’ve been using free email for donkeys years – and still have my talk21 account with a proper forename.surname@ address. Also got a gmail account for signing online petitions and one-off purchases, and have just signed up for an outlook.com one and got my own name again. Brilliant! Why would anyone pay? I’ve not used the email facilities provided by my ISP since I left AOL maybe 15 years ago – so I’m free to switch ISP as often as I want.

I was not saying that it is impossible to get a sensible email address with a free service, Kathy. I know a few who have managed, but many have silly numbers in their email addresses. The point about being able to change ISP is a good one.

In the days when we were bombarded with spam (I used to get at least 100 spam emails a day) I automatically binned messages from Hotmail and other troublesome free services so that I could get on with my work. I know others who did the same. Fortunately the free services finally worked out how to cut down spam, making this unnecessary.

I feel compelled to post here, because Outlook is driving me mad!

I was keen to try the new Outlook service and switched from my traditional Hotmail as soon as I could. But I’ve found using it in Google Chrome next to impossible. Every time I try to take an action, the browser prompts me to ‘refresh’, meaning that sending emails is practically impossible. I’ve had to give up and switch back to Hotmail due to frustration. Very disappointed!

Use gmail for google chrome, use internet explorer for microsoft products. Why would either company go out of each others way to make the ‘enemy’ product work well on their system.

Kevin says:
10 August 2012

I think the new offering is really great, simple, clean, but functionally rich. It seems to work faster with Windows 7 and I assume it will be better still with Windows 8.

It’s a shame they haven’t yet upgraded the calendars and skydrive, but I expect this will follow.

Had no problem switching over and haven’t regretted it for one moment … Brilliant.

Initially I thought Outlook was OK but a bit bland. Then I tried to send email with an attachment but it would not do it ………….how basic is this ??!!
Switched back to Hotmail straight away & told M/soft what I thought of their developers.

evie says:
3 November 2012

what did you have to do to revert to ‘old style’ please? this new c***p is driving me potty!!

My daughter had an ntlworld.com web based email address for 6 years. “Good old” Virgin took over ntl, maybe a year ago, and has just “pulled the plug” without any warning, causing her to lose all her historic emails (partly her fault for not downloading them!). Personally, I would not use web based email, but I don’t have to travel around much. I have been using lineone.net for more than ten years, and have had very little trouble with it.

I have just started using outlook.com.

I have to say that its a vast improvement on Hotmail, its so smooth and clean with non of the junk that its previous predecessors had and even its competition gmail.

As web mail goes I think it has allot of potential and I really like the way they have made setup so simple that it will not be a pain in the back side to setup and integrate all your other e-mail accounts into (you can put all your existing email accounts into separate folders or have all your emails from those accounts automatically enter into your inbox from those other random accounts you thought was a good idea at the time ;P

I suppose its down to taste in terms of the look and feel but I really like the clean streamlined look, its hides all the unnecessary crap but still has all you need available and in easy reach. The setup and operation caters for all types of abilities so no more will your granny be phoning you up asking you to help her with here email 🙂

I have worked professionally in IT for 11 years and have seen my fair share of terrible interfaces but this one has allot of promise, I cant fault its operation or structure.

Google, your move !

woops forgot to add it works seamlessly on Chrome as well as IE

Shannon says:
15 August 2012

I absolutely hate “Outlook”! I want the old hotmail back, I want to be able to see my info and status messages on my profile, which I now can’t! Absolutely ridiculous! Unless it’s changed back to the old hotmail or at least have an option for it, then I’m no longer using this.. Utter s**t if you ask me!

evie says:
3 November 2012

am with you on this one – I hate it – change for the sake of it and for someone who has no interest in the developments, only the functions, of the dub dub dub world – want something simple and straightforward, without all the add ons – how do I revert back to old style please – suggestions say click ‘gear’ where the hell is that?!

Alchemist says:
16 August 2012

Well I like Outlook !
I still have my msn.com address and intend keeping it for as long as I can and it remains valid.
I was never really happy with Hotmail and also found targeted ads ‘creepy’. I know that it was free and the ads generated revenue to keep it so but found them annoying and was never encouraged to buy anything advertised – in fact the contrary!
I liked the simplicity of Outlook Express despite its potential security flaws and as for the evolution of Bing (what does Bing mean anyway?) I preferred it’s previous incarnation – more honest, and subsequently Google, dare I say it ?

I assumed that “Bing!” was an evocation of the sound made by the computer when it discovers something you are searching for. I keep my sound turned off so It’s just a guess.

Rose_Mary says:
23 August 2012

yay i make my hotmail back as it was, i really hate outlook, even now from my hotmail email page if i am clicking on my profile, its takes me GRRRRR outlook profile.. can’t we hv our Hotmail profile back? thnx for ur post, its helped me to get my hotmail email page back 🙂

Can’t blame Microsoft. What are they suppose to do? Keep Hotmail, which sucks compared to G mail or be the pioneer in a new emerging market where the competition isn’t there in quality yet. Apple used to be Microsoft’s shadow, now it’s the other way around.

I can’t think of any advantages Hotmail has ever G mail at the moment except that you can login via MSN and have a nice pretty magazine style interface rather than Google’s spartan look.
Look at companies that don’t innervate and change.. Where is Yahoo nowadays, Altavista used to be the biggest search engine in the world but it didn’t keep up.
In the last 5 years Microsoft seems to have pulled its head from it’s **** and started to innervate. Windows 7 is a brilliant OS compared to everything they have done before bar win95, Their free Anti Virus prog is class leading, Windows 8 will be great on phones and im sure their new email service will work well on that medium also.

I think it’s good for MSN to innovate and offer new facilities and functions but a bit naughty to lure people in to Outlook and then deny access to their e-mail history or make it difficult to revert.

Same rubbish, different front end and name.

Trouble with Hotmail is its a spam magnet and the cr@ppy ads are really annoying.

Lilyofthewoods says:
27 November 2012

I hate outlook. Here is my take on it: Outlook vs. Hotmail. http://www.lilyofthewoods.com/?p=1211

ANNOYED!!!!!!!!!!!! says:
20 March 2013

OUTLOOK.COM is s**t. Didn’t ask for it, didin’t want it. Now its costing me money. Time for MS to listen to its customers and bin this crap!

ABEE says:
25 March 2013

Sorry if wrong place to ask. When visiting a company’s website and I click on “contact us” I get Windows live Mail with the adddress already in. As I like to use Hotmail and have a record in my Sent File I paste and copy the address into Hotmail. Q. Can I and how do I make Hotmail be chosen when I want to contact a company. Thanks if you can help/advise a not very competant fella

R A Hawke says:
1 July 2013

I’ve had a lot of trouble with Outlook – slow to load, slow to react to clicks to open or send emails, sometimes won’t do it for minutes on end. Lots of complaints on their forum but they keep blaming browsers etc. I’d like to abandon it but I’ve got too much history tied up in MSN / Hotmail.

Ok so back to basics, please for the uninitiated – I have Free versions of Hotmail.com and a gmail.com addresses. Which is better or which other one? I do have a leaning towards Hotmail simply because I have used it longer and more used to it.
I need several (Aliases?) i.e. fred.smiths@gmail.com, brian.smiths@gmail.com, philip.smiths@gmail.com
all to appear in the same In-Box. Is this possible? How do I set it up, please? Obviously I am NOT experienced!