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2/20/2013
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Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail

With Outlook.com, Microsoft takes aim at Google's search and email dominance. Redmond already claims more than 60 million users, but will more Gmail users defect?

After a six-month preview, Microsoft on Tuesday announced that its Outlook.com webmail service is open for business. The new offering escalates Redmond's attempts to lure users away from Google's email and search products, and to rebrand its consumer-oriented portfolio. Microsoft claims that Outlook.com had 60 million active users by the end of the preview period.

Outlook.com hopes to entice more users with a modern interface that infuses email with social media. By allowing users to hook into Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the service is designed to automatically detect changes to a contact's information and make necessary revisions to the address book. It also allows users to keep tabs on friends' social media activity, such as status updates or new photos, from within the Outlook.com interface. Other features include Sweep, which allows users to clear thousands of messages with a few clicks, and Sky Drive integration that allows users to share media content, including large video files.

Now that Outlook.com is live, Microsoft will begin migrating Hotmail accounts to the new service. The plan has been in the works since the preview period was announced, and Redmond says that users should experience no disruptions as their contacts, emails, folders and passwords are transferred. The transition is slated to be completed by this summer.

Microsoft states that Outlook.com offers 60% fewer ads than competing services, a stat ostensibly aimed at Google. Redmond recently launched an aggressive ad campaign attacking the search giant's handling of user data in generating targeted ads. The official debut of Outlook.com furthers this effort.

[ Is an IE10 update imminent? Read Microsoft Hints At IE10 Release With New Toolkit. ]

Though Microsoft neglected Hotmail for stretches in the past, the company will enjoy a massive user base once all accounts have been migrated. Microsoft claimed 360 million unique monthly users in July 2011, and if that figure remotely portends the user influx that will soon hit Outlook.com, Redmond will have dramatically increased its webmail presence.

In June, Google announced it had become the world's biggest email supplier with 425 million active users. It's worth noting that analytics firm comScore regularly detects fewer users than either Microsoft or Google has claimed; in December, the most recent month for which data is available, comScore found that Gmail led the field with 306 million users, followed by Yahoo with 293 million and Hotmail with 267 million.

If Microsoft can attract Gmail users, it can eat away at its rival's search empire. Bing has yet to become a meaningful challenger in this regard; according to comScore, Google accounted for 67% of searches in December while Microsoft's search engine accounted for only 16.5%. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, whose company relies on Bing for its search services, has said Redmond's project needs to produce better results.

Microsoft claims that one-third of Outlook's 60 million preview users also use Gmail, suggesting that Microsoft is effectively reaching its target audience. Still, with many users already invested in Google Drive and other facets of the Google ecosystem, it remains to be seen how many users will permanently defect.

Outlook.com appears to be off to a good start, though. According to a post on the service's Twitter account, 1.5 million new users signed up within 12 hours of the official launch.

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FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 5:31:44 AM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
Most people have multiple e-mail accounts, perhaps for different purposes -- person vs work, side business, accounts they keep hidden from spouses . . . I don't really think Microsoft cares why, just that they have them. Now they just have to prove the service is worthwhile. I think the author's comment about people being invested in Google's ecosystem (and thus carry a preference for GMail) rings true. Ultimately I think many people will choose an all-Microsoft or all-Google approach to e-mail/personal cloud/mobile.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 7:35:15 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
Would agree with you about the Spam issue (less so with Jpolk since he regularly bashes anything to do with MS). Anyway, most of the legacy webmail providers have (or had) horrendous Spam issues. Their motto seemed to be - deliver everything, filter nothing, and relay like Hades.

fwiw - Outlook.com is a completely different product. Try it. I think you'll like it.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:55:08 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
Have to agree with this comment, I had a had a hotmail account for many years now, and rarely get any spam. I find all the ads I'm subjected to in gmail to be highly annoying also.
My wife loves gmail, I don't think it's so great, I'll definitely be gibing outlook.com a spin.
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:37:53 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
An @outlook.com account would carry much more business weight than a @gmail.com account.
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:35:48 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
Funny, I very rarely get spam on my @msn.com or @live.com email accounts. . .
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:34:24 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
Gmail is only that popular because of Android, so MS needs to get Android usage down as well as gmail usage.
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:19:24 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
No, GMail users are not going to jump ship. Very few 'floozies' here. Many will, however pick up an Outlook address as an additional account. Your email address says a lot about YOU. One my use different accounts / addresses for social, business or family use etc. .AOL, Hotmail & Yahoo, etc. (IMHO) tend to be viewed as social / informal media. I would not advise attempting to do any serious business with it. (Especially a job application or business transaction) As a new contender, Outlook starts with a 'clean slate' (tabula raza?) Nice for Hotmail users to get a 'free' status upgrade. Meanwhile, I like my GMail interface, where I am working now. I may have over a dozen email addresses that I have picked up over the years and they all forward here. I do also have Thunderbird loaded and active to insure that I have everything stored locally. Like my esteemed colleague always says, " Your mileage may differ ". Have a good day.
nc300
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nc300,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 5:59:29 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
Who cares how many accounts. If they give it for free, everyone will take it, but do nothing with it. The question is how much the users will really use it (hits per day, #hours pages are open, etc.).

Just like JPolk's comment, my hotmail account is to hold junk contacts, and is full of spam. With lot of graphical ads, hotmail is also much slower than Gmail (text based ads). I check my hotmail once in a while. Am on Gmail all the time.

Would be interesting to see, how can Microsoft make this experience less painful.
JPolk
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JPolk,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 4:48:34 PM
re: Microsoft: Outlook Making Progress Vs. Gmail
My Hotmail account was mainly a spam bucket. Like Yahoo!
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