If you've been around the internet for very long, chances are you've heard of Hotmail. You may not have heard it has evolved into Outlook.com, a stylish and efficient free email service that meets your busy, mobile lifestyle. Outlook.com is the winner of our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award because it offers nearly unlimited virtual storage space, social media integration, enhanced customization and security options.
In comparison, Outlook.com makes Hotmail look like an antiquated 8-track player. If you are a Hotmail user, Outlook.com allows you to keep your old Hotmail or MSN ID and contacts while offering a new and improved feature set. Outlook.com is fast, easy to use, and integrates beautifully with your smartphone, PC or Windows 8 device.
When you sign up for your free Outlook.com email account, you automatically have access to 7GB of cloud storage on Skydrive, and you can purchase additional space with a subscription if you desire. We are impressed with this large amount of storage as it removes any worries of running out of space. Plus, because Outlook.com uses Skydrive, you no longer have to worry about your attachment file size.
Packed full of features and tools, Outlook.com makes working with and accessing your email easy and convenient. When you use any Windows 8 device, PC, tablet, or smartphone, all you have to do is sign in and your email, calendar, and files are there ready to use. One function we are particularly impressed with is how you can add other email accounts to your Outlook.com profile. This function checks your inboxes and brings all of the email into Outlook.com. This is extremely convenient, reducing the time it takes to log in and out of multiple email accounts. In addition, Outlook.com lets you write and send emails from your other email account addresses without having to log into your other accounts.
Outlook.com is as serious about social media as you are. By linking your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter accounts with Outlook.com, you can follow the feeds and messages of your friends. You can chat and comment with your friends or see their latest tweets without having to close your email.
Outlook.com is designed with efficiency and ease of use in mind. Writing a new email with the plain text composer is easy, and it includes basic word processing features like a spell-checker, a dictionary and a thesaurus to help you. We are very impressed with the inclusion of Office 365 in Skydrive. This feature lets you open, edit or contribute to a Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint document. This is a great way to increase your productivity from anywhere, on any device, since you will not have to purchase or install Microsoft Office to get your work done.
With Outlook.com, your inbox is easy to maintain and organize. You can manually sort all your incoming mail into pre-specified or custom folders, or you can define rules to sort your mail according to email sender address, words found in the email, work, family, book club, PTA or any other category your heart desires.
It is easy to navigate Outlook.com. The menus at the top of the page are optimized to reduce the amount of clicks and submenus needed to accomplish any task. Additionally, you can search your inbox or various folders if you are looking for a specific message. If you connect your social media accounts, you can import your address book and contacts into Outlook.com. We noticed this works best with Facebook and LinkedIn.
Because this is a free email service, it comes as no surprise that there are ads on your inbox page. Fortunately, the loud flashing and flash-heavy ads you may be used to are gone. Instead, a thin column to the right of your inbox emails contains text-only ads in neutral colors. This is less distracting, and the ads disappear when you open an email or create one. Microsoft does not scan your email for the purpose of serving you ads, and you can opt-out of receiving any ads by visiting the opt-out page and changing your preferences. This is a welcome change from being assaulted by ads that are annoying, inappropriate or insensitive.
Outlook.com does an exceptional job keeping spam out of your inbox and boasts a 97-percent success rate. If you do receive spam, simply mark it as such and you’ll never see a recurrence in your inbox again. A great tool included with Outlook.com is Sweep. Using this feature, you can set Sweep to automatically delete or keep email out of your inbox before it arrives. This helps keep your inbox uncluttered and you can avoid being disturbed by useless email inbox notifications on your phone.
We are glad to see Outlook.com has an unsubscribe button that will automatically send an unsubscribe notice to any email newsletter. This is particularly handy when you miss a checkbox and a website signs you up for multiple newsletters you didn't want.
Outlook.com scans all incoming and outgoing mail for viruses and blocks images and restricts downloads from unfamiliar addresses. You can choose to trust all messages from a particular email address and Outlook.com will not block anything from then on. Outlook.com also blocks incoming messages from known phishers; however, you should always be cautious when opening email from someone you do not know.
Microsoft offers help online for Outlook.com with FAQs and forums. If you are unable to find the answers you are looking for, you can contact customer service by email. We found the customer service to be helpful and accurate.
Outlook.com has come a long way from its humble Hotmail origins. It provides an easy-to-use, flexible email service with intuitive spam and junk mail filtering. We love the integration of social media like Twitter and Facebook, and we're impressed with how easy it is to use on any web-enabled device. This is one of the best free email services available, and is sure to make your life easier so you can focus less on your inbox and spend more time enjoying life.
Outlook.com is optimized for mobile use and Windows 8. It also connects well with your social media.
There is no IMAP support and no video chat.
Outlook.com is an excellent free email service that lets you integrate your social media and access your other email accounts in one place.