Never thought I’d be doing a post on a Microsoft product, but once in a great while, they really do something right. I’m actually a huge fan of this new Microsoft 8 interface. I did a review back in 2011, explaining how much I loved the look. The new Outlook.com takes after Windows 8 like a younger brother.
I threw a walk-through from CNET in at the bottom.
First thing I noticed, is how simple it is. Simple, in this day and age, is the design trend. The simpler you can keep it, the better it is for everyone. Readability goes up, clutter goes down, the point is usually straight forward, etc.
In-Depth after the jump:
It’s available to all. I created an email just for this demo, actually. It’s as open as Gmail ever was. You don’t need an existing Live account, you do not need Windows, etc.
Quick Switch. To start, we have the new Quick Switch button on the top of the page, which brings down a menu where you are enabled to switch between all the services. Services include: Mail, People (Contacts), Calendar, and SkyDrive.
Calendar. Unfortunately, the Calendar doesn’t have the same interface as the rest. This is the only tab that didn’t adopt Windows 8’s block interface. It redirects you to the normal Windows Live calendar. It’s almost hard to find the links to get back to the original interface. Don’t you hate that!? (That’s why it’s very important to have a seamless interface) I was hoping it would be just like Windows Mail.
Other emails. So once I got on there, the first thing I realized, besides the gorgeously simple interface, was the ability to use the online Outlook with any email address. (Did not work with my @me / @iCloud.com email addresses though, as I figured. POP3 is required, no IMAP) This makes it just like the native Windows app. Using it like it’s an Apple Mail app, or a Windows Mail app, except, this is online. From what I know, this is new, and I love it.
Social accounts. On top of adding email accounts, you can connect Twitter and Facebook. Not just to add to the contacts list, but you can Tweet and post directly from it as if it was an email. (Using the regular Send page) Also, you can gather all of your contacts from Google, Flickr, and LinkedIN.
When you select a contact on your People List, it shows all available information. Even from a simple Twitter account, you’re able to view their address or approximate Location, their name, username, website, and notes.
SkyDrive. It has a tab in the quick app switcher (photo included in this post) for SkyDrive. Anyone is allowed to sign up, therefor you’re automatically signed up for a SkyDrive account. (Microsoft’s iCloud)
What’s cool about SkyDrive, is the change of views. You can have a list view as usual, but like I said, they’ve adopted Windows 8’s interface. So now you can get a block like tablet ability to browse through your files.
On the sign-up main page, Microsoft brags about how their advertisements work. How they don’t take your information to display relevant ads.
Instead, they give you a small settings icon on the bottom right, under the ads. When clicked, it brings you to a page where you can answer questions (optional, obviously) about yourself, to tell them, when you want, what you want displayed. Any category of ad you’d like to see, if any at all.
This is a new approach, not sure if it really matters or is at all relevant itself.
Views. I’m not a huge fan of the previous versions of Windows Mail or Outlook. I do know that in Apple Mail, there was the convenient split screen view (right or bottom read page) for selecting emails and viewing them simultaneously.
They’ve made nice improvements here. Everything is very clear when you have the select and read page side by side. You can also switch it to top and bottom which makes it even more clear. Only downside to that, obviously, depending on your display size, you may have to do a lot of scrolling.
Shipping Updates. This really surprised me! I was browsing the left sidebar (main sidebar) and towards the bottom, discovered this little tab titled, “Shipping Updates.”
What this does is, it tracks all emails you get regarding information on a package you’re having shipped to you, and throws it conveniently in a separate designated folder for you. This is awesome! Never seen this before! This will make it very easy to sort out your delivery messages. I get a ton of them when waiting, I’m impatient!
What do you think of the new Outlook.com? Do you like this, or the native clients? Let me know in the comments below.