For many of us, our first connection to Cloud Computing was through the online email service Hotmail and being one of the oldest of all the Free online services (it went live July 4, 1996) it became an integral part of the online community (even if it was a SPAM magnet), but as with many online services…it has more than outlived its usefulness. When Gmail came along in 2004, the future was looking very bleak indeed for the king of online email and now 8 years later…it is officially over!
Microsoft snapped up Hotmail back in 1997 and in my opinion, that is when it started to decline but that was also the days of 56k Modems and Pentium I computers so there was not a lot we as users could really do but sit back and let the future unfold. Over the years, our portable email service evolved from just Hotmail, to MSN Hotmail, to Windows Live Hotmail and now Microsoft has decided to put the final nails in the coffin of Hotmail with the announcement of Outlook.com.
I think back to 2004 when I was lucky enough to receive an early “invitation” to Gmail. It didn’t take long before I all but forgot about my Hotmail Account and almost everything was done with Google rather than Microsoft and the reality is…a great many of the current 325 million users also started to transition to one of the many Free Email Providers that offered a much more robust experience than the Hotmail UI that remained relatively unchanged for the 10 years that I used it.
Fast forwarding to the Microsoft “rebirth” in the consumer market. The Windows 8 and “New Microsoft” (BTW have you seen the new Microsoft Logo?) have been hard at work re-branding everything and doing radical transformations (I may even re-install the consumer release of Windows 8 and give it a review this weekend) and the new Outlook.com is actually much more than just a “re-branding”. I have had a Windows Live ID that was not tied to a Hotmail.com or Live.com address for a while so I figured I would Login and take Outlook.com for a spin.
I was more than pleasantly surprised by both the modern layout and the immediate offer to link any and all external email’s to a single inbox. This could actually be a massive time saver for me…a Unified Inbox that is fully portable…I was curious. It also lets me connect my Facebook and Twitter…now I am intrigued. An Outlook.com App…for Android? Well it is still called Hotmail there but yep…it is there!!!
This may just be worth taking a closer look. If I can have a unified inbox that would let me track and maintain a single view of my life…combine all the many calendar events that I need to track…they may be on to something. The Android App is a bit vanilla compared to the stunning modern graphics of the web version…but I am sure on a Windows Phone…the alignment would be far more functional.
I am not 100% sure if I will make the leap…but I currently have 4 email apps on my phone and iPad, maintain 11 email addresses at home and at work and it would be really nice to find a way to bring that into one view…for my own sanity.
Chris J Powell