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Introducing Outlook.com - Modern Email for the Next Billion Mailboxes (office.com)
426 points by kaelspencer on July 31, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 321 comments

We haven't instantly forgotten how Microsoft handles Skydrive, have we?: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4265086

I think I'll pass on putting my email through their systems. Although I have to admit this looks way better than GMail. I hope this inspires Google to do something about their interface design.

And I'm going to hope and pray that google stops screwing with their interface design.

Gmail was perfect.

>> Gmail was perfect.

Comments about perfect technology keep popping up on hn. I would think that claiming any technology is "perfect" is a little self-defeating coming from a tech startup news site? The very core of what we all stand for here is advancing mankind (or making the world a better place) through whatever means we are capable (most often technology). Viewing existing technologies as "perfect" closes the mind to the possibilities of better solutions.

I wonder how many times throughout history someone has claimed some piece of technology is perfect, and the same person 10 years later chuckles at the thought of having actually used the now-antiquated and clearly-inferior technology.

You are probably being too abstract here. What you are saying is true as a general statement, but in Gmail's case, it's big draw was its simple, fast and clean interface that stood as a stark contrast to hotmail and yahoo. The storage it offered was bound to be matched by others soon, but the Ui design was something that could have used incremental feature improvements, not the drastic Web 2.0 treatment it received.

Today's gmail interface is hard to use and is slow. Very arguably a far cry from the perfection it seemed to be in 2004.

I agree it was good, and probably better in the past just because it was faster and less cluttered. But this attitude:

>> I'm going to hope and pray that google stops screwing with their interface design.

I don't agree with, and this is part of what I was addressing as well. I hope they do continue screwing with their interface design, but obviously I rather hope and pray that they improve it rather than make it slower and more cluttered. It doesn't make sense for me to happily use Google products and simultaneously fear that if they touch them they will make them worse. They are the owners of the product, so either I trust that they have some competency or I look elsewhere.

"Perfect", especially in terms of UI is extremely subjective. I personally prefer the new Gmail design.

Good luck with that.

SAAS means you're vulnerable to vendor change with every pageload.

Though there are getting to be tools which allow you to reverse-engineer sites and design them how you want, but this is subject to a lot of churn keeping up with the SAAS vendor.

Still lovin' my mutt.

True, but it would be nice to augment Mutt with things like tags and conversations[1] without having convoluted setups involving hacks with external scripts.

Another example, it would be really cool to be able to edit email as Markdown/Textile/reStructuredText and have it converted to a text+html (multipart/alternative) email, but currently there is no way to do that with Mutt without using some sort of sendmail wrapper that does this.

[1] I realize that Gmail's threading isn't 'true' threading, but I'm talking about pulling in the entire thread even if it's not part of the current email folder.

Not pointing this out for any reason other than it might useful for some: http://sup.rubyforge.org/

More generally, though, I last used mutt in the late 90s so I have no clue but.. it doesn't allow for a vim-style of extension by third party addons?

I used sup for many years (and contributed some very minor patches). sup is no longer maintained and it's difficult to get running with ruby 1.9. Some good people that weren't happy with sup created notmuch (http://notmuchmail.org/) with similar goals. There is a mutt fork that uses morning called mutt-kz (https://github.com/karelzak/mutt-kz/wiki).

I'm not as satisfied with mutt-kz as I was with sup, but it's probably even better if you have invested a lot of time configuring mutt just so.

On the flipside, SAAS means you can augment the interface using browser plugins (user scripts, CSS, etc)!

That's a characteristic of applications that run in a web browser and has nothing to do with SAAS architecture.

You can get back the old UI using "old gmail" userstyle (http://userstyles.org/styles/57755/the-return-of-old-gmail) and a few tweaks such as turning off chat. This only works in chrome or firefox.

One complaint I've heard, a lot .. almost everyone thinks new gmail UI is butt ugly.

But it's also very functional. My parents were long time yahoo-mail users, who switched a few months ago. They love never having to delete mail in order to tidy, terrific spam detection etc. My dad uses filters and archiving, but my mom has a huge inbox and only ever searches. This dichotomy between searching and labeling is an on-going debate in the family :)

I understand how you feel, as I feel the same way about Gmail (and about Twitter too). If there is one bad thing about using someone else's platform, it's that they can change it whenever they want.

This is what Microsoft is saying now -

Putting you in control. Email is private and confidential, and most folks we've talked to want to keep it that way. So we keep your personal email personal. We don't scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company, and we don't show ads in personal conversations. We let you decide whether to connect your account to social networks, and which ones you want to use - and you're in control of who you friend or follow. And, if you're a power user who wants to really fine tune your inbox, we let you create your own categories, folders, and rules to tailor Outlook.com to your preferences.

> We don't scan your email content or attachments and sell this information to advertisers or any other company

They're saying they don't scan your email to sell information to advertisers, that doesn't mean they don't scan it for violations of their T&C's.

Mind you, even this statement is pretty FUD-like since Gmail also doesn't "scan your email [...] and sell this information to advertisers".

As a big Android/Google fan, I can't say they are exactly innocent when it comes to the sort of thing Microsoft was called out for with Skydrive.

When Google+ first came out quite a lot of people lost their "Google lives" (including their gmail accounts they had been using for years) when Google banned them for being under 13 or using a pseudonym.

The under 13 thing, as has been discussed before, is due to COPPA. Google doesn't offer anything like hotmail's family account (where the child's account is managed by a proven parent's account), so if they find out that you're under 13, they have to close your account and they aren't allowed to warn you that they will do so (or let you go back and change your birthdate).

As for the pseudonym thing, that never occurred. People lost their google+ accounts, but the rest was just forum posts saying things like, "I remember reading about someone..." without providing the actual citation.

I was setting up my wife's account for youtube and accidentally put today's date in for her birthdate. I was immediately locked out and had to pay a fee to get her email back.

and share how much the fee was...

("accepting and verifying a credit card number in connection with a transaction" is one of the COPPA approved methods of verifying adulthood)

That's a new policy, it was more when I did it. It was summer 2011 but I can't find an email reciept so I'm not completely sure. I believe it was between $2-$5 at the time.

An expensive typo for sure.

No, they don't have to close the account, they choose to, rather than deal with the law's requirements.


> While children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents' permission, many websites altogether disallow underage children from using their services due to the amount of paperwork involved.

What distinction are you making here? They also choose to not give you infinite storage space for free and choose to not indemnify you for copyright infringement when you send ripped mp3s as attachments. Every company operating in the US has to decide if offering services to children is worth the extra regulatory oversight.

If you'd like, I can rephrase, but the meaning is the same:

Google doesn't offer anything like hotmail's family account (where the child's account is managed by a proven parent's account), so if they find out that you're under 13, they will be in violation of the law if they do not close your account, and they aren't allowed to warn you that they will do so (or let you go back and change your birthdate).

The law provides a way to offer accounts to under-13s. They don't have to close the account, they just choose to close it instead of complying with the added burden that would be required.

If providing the current set of GMail features (including price) is uneconomical for Google after support for under-13s is added (and, AFAIK, all of the external evidence we have suggests that it is), then you're making a distinction without a difference.

I believe the point is that you're lying when you say, quote, "they have to close the account".

Google could simply choose not to collect personal information on accounts of children. This would be, literally, one line of code to implement. They've chosen instead to ban children from Google services, which is in no way required by law.

Well, thanks for the "lying" comment. They don't have to pay taxes either, but that won't last long.

As for the literally one line of code, I don't believe that's correct. IANAL nor an implementor of a COPPA-compliant product, but my understanding is that even storing a copy of an email that contains personal information will be in violation of the law without parental consent and certainly without the ability for a parent to view it and delete it. Storing any received and sent email may be enough to count as collecting personal information.

Can you name any email provider that will knowingly allow children under 13 to use the service without having a parent controlling the account? When you do use the family accounts in hotmail or yahoo, you have to actually provide proof that you're an adult, and some level of proof of connection with the account (joining the accounts actually looks rather difficult, through hotmail, at least. Usually a parent account sets up child accounts). Setting up that system literally takes more than one line of code.

Literally, one line of code? That's a pretty amazing claim. How familiar are you with Google's code?

Also wasn't there some controversy a few months ago (perhaps march? random guess) where someone lost their google life because of some adwords dispute?

I think the issue got resolved because he was lucky enough to be a nerd which a blog that got picked up by HN/Techmeme etc. and then someone from Google personally fixed the problem.

Most users would have been hosed. It also doesn't help that Google has no "real" customer support other than forums. As a user it would be extremely uncomfortable to lose your Google life and have no phone number to call.

At least you can call Microsoft. Whether they can do anything about it is a different story but it at least will escalate easier, or at least I would imagine

nobody has ever lost their gmail account for using a pseudonym on G+.

It's not just SkyDrive. They also actively filter evil links out of your email. You know, like http://piratebay.se/.

> They also actively filter evil links out of your email. You know, like http://piratebay.se/.

They do? I was able to send myself several test messages containing this link.

Dug up the link and...doh! It was Live Messenger[1]. Right company, wrong product; but I think the point holds.

1. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120326/04530718244/micros...

Humorous mistake of a similar nature: I recently tried to link to a post about Skype becoming more susceptible to policing when it had previously been far more resilient. Messenger warned me that the link was dangerous. After a few minutes I discovered that it was the ow.ly service that was flagged as "dangerous" rather than the blog post.

I was losing my head for a few minutes.

It would indeed appear that since outlook is also a Live product, it follows the same code of conduct banning nudity. There's no reason to assume that they wouldn't scan the service similarly.


You needn't look any farther than Hotmail to grow wary of the merits of their new service.

And there's the whole Skype brouhaha.

Microsoft have an edge over Google in that they aren't perceived to be as morally bankrupt, when it comes to privacy and protecting their users (because they earn their money elsewhere), but with the Skype criticism, that may be subject to change. It's a nice flank of attack to use against Google, though, and the video ad in the submission hits all the right notes.

>Microsoft have an edge over Google in that they aren't perceived to be as morally bankrupt,

Lol, kids these days, not around during the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s.

Offering a contrary opinion: Microsoft is definitely morally bankrupt. I don't trust them at all.

Not trying to be smug, but I bet you're younger than 30, if you can say that with a straight face.

Suppose we move 20 years forward. Are we going to see this type of comment regardless of what the company would be at that time? "No way, man! I bet you're younger than 50, if you... " Do you really think that ghosts from the past need to haunt people's minds for that long regardless of how the state of the world has changed? I perceive none of MS and Google as being protective of their users or respectful of said users privacy. Nonetheless, when we speak of events that have anything to do with morals, I guess we have to take into consideration the time that has passed since those events have happened, since both the morals and the scene could have changed dramatically.

The UEFI "secure boot" thing tells me they haven't changed one bit. They are still the same company. Trust them at your own risk. You have been warned.

I think your reasoning is flawed, to be honest. If a person (and let's pretend companies are people, just for now) does something amoral, it would take a lot of deliberate effort to rebuild trust in said person. Especially so if the deeds were done in a situation where the person was in power and that power has since dwindled. Of course, companies aren't people, but even then - The actual people who lead the company are, and those are the same people now as then. For comparison, I think mr. Gates has actually done his part to "repay" his debt to the world, but that's him personally - not something that reflects back on Microsoft.

In any case, the topic wasn't about which is fair or not, but rather about what the public image of Google vs. Microsoft is and I strongly disagree with your sentiment that Google generally appear more corrupt than Microsoft does. At least if we're talking the tech-savvy part of this worlds population.

> Microsoft have an edge over Google in that they aren't perceived to be as morally bankrupt

Hahahaha what

I certainly perceive Microsoft to be morally bankrupt. Google less so, for two reasons:

1. They haven't been around as long and so haven't had to decide how far they'll go when the next big thing comes along.

2. I think they "get" trust, and realise their entire business depends on it. Facebook... not so much. Their continued retraction of new services show that trust isn't even an afterthought.

because they earn their money elsewhere?

This is a terribly odd statement. Microsoft has shown, time and time again, that they can shaft their customers because many of them have, or at least had, few alternatives. Google might make a lot of its money on advertising, but it wouldn't make a penny if it didn't have the trust and respect of its customers.

Yes it would. Neither I nor anyone I know use Google because we trust or respect it, we use it because it works well.

I use Google pretty much entirely because I trust and respect them. GMail is the first and only web email service I have ever used...I've always run my own mail servers, because the trust wasn't there.

I'm not sure I have that level of trust for Microsoft, though my trust in Microsoft is much higher than, say, facebook (which I actively distrust, and try very hard to prevent from having access to anything I would consider private, especially email).

Trust is far and away my highest priority when deciding on online services, and if it isn't yours... well good luck friend, you're going to need it.

Your email is likely to be an important part of your life's documentation, containing an awful lot of very personal information. An unscrupulous provider could use it in all sorts of horrible ways - off the top of my head, how about a lucrative employment screening service that lists of how often you've mentioned getting wasted the night before, or throwing a sickie, or dissed a colleague... let alone the value of strategy, customer communications and other immensely valuable commercial conversations.

This is why many here refuse to use email services they don't control. I myself use Gmail, because I trust Google. Not because they say "Don't be evil", but because I think they understand how their entire business depends on trust. Compare this to Facebook, for whom privacy seems to be an afterthought. Their business is being badly hurt because they continue to trample over their user's trust.

And what about Microsoft? For me, the rorts Microsoft have carried out in the past twenty years (cynically stacking standards organisations with their minions to bulldoze their document format through was the last straw for me) counts them out. I'll never use another MS operating system or online service, end of story. No matter how much better than the competition.

So for me, particularly for online services, trust trumps functionality - absolutely.

You trust Google with your email more than Microsoft? Google is the one that scans your email for advertising keywords.

But no, I was talking about search. Google doesn't do email well in general. Their one significant advance was popularizing threaded display of conversations, and that hasn't been a gmail-exclusive feature for years.

I'll bet there are some smart, hard-working, upstanding googlers here that read that and felt a little sad.

And conversely so with Microsoft employees and similar criticisms. Nobody likes to the think they work for The Man or some kind of corporate tyrant, most truly believe they bringing value to the lives of their users as opposed to exploiting them (even incidentally).

Google is just as susceptible to trust issues as Microsoft or anyone else. Every time Google is caught violating privacy it's always an "accident", like with the wifi network data collection being done by their street view cars. If a company is constantly apologizing for "accidents" that align with their business interests I'd have a hard time trusting them, even if I continue to use them.

I'm tired of people making insinuations about some sinister motive behind the WiFi logging without evidence. How did that debacle "align with Google's business interests"?

What use is there for fragments of WiFi payload data logged from a moving vehicle that also happens to be hopping WiFi frequencies? If there was any intent to exploit it, wouldn't you try to log more comprehensively? That is, by grabbing full HTTP transactions, or whatever.

Of course, this isn't meant to minimize the very clear fact that someone there fucked up. That case appears to be one where the accident label is justified.

     How did that debacle "align with Google's business interests"?
Payload data can be used to inform their advertising efforts.

Two other points:

1. After an engineer alerted his supervisor of the "accident" it continued anyway so even if it was a sincere accident, nobody gave a enough of shit to rectify it.

2. Google still has the data two years after they were supposed to have deleted it, which they blame on communication issues as to how to delete it. Is Google saying the don't having the engineering know how to properly dispose of data if needed.


Payload data can be used to inform their advertising efforts.

The data collected while a streetview car drove by can inform their advertising efforts? You really have to bear a serious anti-Google grudge to entertain such a ridiculous, technologically laughable premise.

You don't think the contents of email messages could be used to inform advertising data? Even in aggregate? Do ads in gmail show up at random?

I don't have a grudge against google, I like my android phone over an iPhone and use google Reader and Chrome because they are the best at what they do, and use google analytics because it's good enough for the price. I just don't have any illusions as to what they expect in return for their free products.

Email, of course, contains tons of personal information. If linked to a user's identity, it could clearly be used to inform advertising. However, emails in aggregate probably don't give you any more useful advertising insight than the Web corpus itself, which Google could obviously use if it wanted.

Further, why would Google need to log random bits of WiFi payload data to extract a relatively small amount of email when they operate Gmail?! If the decision to purposefully violate people's privacy had actually been made, wouldn't it be easier to look at Gmail than to use Street View?

There would be more data, better data, and you'd have it more quickly than if you sent a bunch of cars to drive all over the world, collect a bunch of extraneous crap, then wait for them to come back, and screen it for something useful.

Frankly, that's absurd.

I use my old mac.com and new me.com emails and it works beautifully. The iCloud mail interface as well as everything else about the experience is just great. Very, very little spam, lightning fast, no ads, integration with my iCal and therefore easily accessed from all of my devices. Gmail is good, but I find it's overrated.

Interesting. I've had issues with a me.com email — for seemingly no reason at all it will say I'm providing the incorrect password. Seems to happen every other week at random intervals.

IIRC, it's not free.

It is now.

Again? Wow!

Hmmm, I'm not a fan of the outlook.com design in any what so ever. The fonts are messy, the buttons are in all the wrong places, the icons don't mean anything to me.

It feels like a weekend hackathon project not a commercial enterprise.

I know I haven't. It's more than just one "whoopsie" though. It happened with Windows Live messenger and TPB before. It's happening with Skype, and all the non-transparency regarding to what type of agencies they give user data, how easily they do that, and so on.

Microsoft really doesn't care about branding: once I logged in to my new @outlook.com Inbox using Outlook.com, I was redirected to live.com where I had a single message pre-sent to me from the "Hotmail Team" welcoming me to Microsoft Live Hotmail.

Outlook's url seems to be on the live.com domain... confusing at best. Let's make a comparison of url's from the "home" view:

New Outlook (wtf): https://bay002.mail.live.com/default.aspx

Gmail (better, could be cleaner): https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox

Does the URL really matter that much? I agree it's not unimportant, but I don't think it's a big deal. The program itself is much more important

It matters from a security perspective. A bad or inconsistent URL, especially a hostname that isn't instantly recognizable, makes phishing easier.

Did you miss that it is still a preview?

hm... that's interesting because I got an email subjected "Welcome to the Outlook.com preview"


are you sure you're using the new outlook.com account and not an old hotmail/live one? if you have a password manager with autologin you might have gotten signed into a wrong account

I am not even certain I know my Hotmail password: I have not logged into that account in many years, and certainly not from my iPhone (which is where I just created that account).

Yeah, verified: here is a copy/paste from the message.

    From: Hotmail Team <member_services@live.com>
    To: <saurik@outlook.com>
    Subject: Getting started with Hotmail
    Date: Tue 7/31/12 9:51 AM

Hotmail is their Email service, Outlook is their email client.

outlook.com is basically in beta. They haven't even updated the calendars. I suspect that they will continue to iron these inconsistencies as the launch date of Windows 8 approaches.

I've been using Outlook by choice, well, forever. I won't bother listing all the reasons for this. It's powerful and it works well. And, if you are a programmer, you can go to town writing your own customizations with VBA.

I use Yahoo Mail online for most of my personal stuff. Out of all the online email offerings out there I have found it to be the most "polished" (if I can use that term) and outlook-like. I tried Gmail a couple of years back and just didn't do it for me. As an example, the lack of a real time preview pane was a huge deal breaker for me. Both Outlook and Yahoo Mail have this. Maybe Gmail has this now, I don't know.

The other thing about Gmail that scared the crap out of me was to watch as one of our clients had their Gmail account evaporate because their AdSense account got shut down. They were new to the platform and made a couple of dumb and innocent mistakes off the line. Google bots summarily shut-down the account with no recourse or anyone to contact. As their account got suspended so went Gmail. I'll let you venture a guess as to whether or not these people are using any Google products now.

Here's a feature I wish email clients would implement: Tabbed accounts.

I run more than one company and regularly monitor a dozen email accounts. Outlook and Yahoo Mail allow you to setup rules to deliver email from specific accounts into designated folders. With Outlook you can also choose to store the email in separate files. That's all well and fine, but the whole thing has the risk of becoming cluttered and difficult to use after a while.

There's an Outlook hack that allows you to launch multiple Outlook instances. This works very well as I can launch one instance that opens the email addresses corresponding to one business and another instance with a separate business. Having multiple monitors makes this even handier.

What would be even better is if I could do the same thing with tabs. I want one tab per business --or a user-designated category. Each tab would receive and send email from one or many email addresses. They would all be independent while having relevant sharing capabilities (copy and past, drag and drop, etc.).

It's about context switching.

With something like that I could have a single email client handle all of my business email as well as personal within one application window. That would be slick.

Gmail allows you to sign in to multiple accounts at the same time (in different tabs).

I have two pinned tabs always open in Chrome - one for personal, one for business emails. Works incredibly well for me.

Except this only recently was made to work again (a year?) and it doesn't work across all Google properties. I agree that the new effort from Microsoft had no chance against the old gmail, against the current gmail the jury is still out :-).

What I find interesting is that its even a product. I know that sounds weird but bear with me for a moment.

Mail (the service) has changed hardly at all for a decade. You send an email, may be you attach a few files, you get the email. The biggest change was that you could send text that had been formatted with HTML so that it looked 'better' (not everyone agrees with this) than plain, monospaced text.

Its a bitch to monetize in any way except direct payment, and yet the Eudora's and other mail clients of the world have faded from memory.

Given the collective memory, is it time for mail as a service? You know you pay $12/year or something and it just works. Nobody futzes with the UI, the amount of space you get/use is entirely a function of what you're willing to pay.

The question I'm asking is this, "Have we collectively come to understand the intrinsic value of email?" If so is there a utility service business plan that makes sense now? I could certainly see how you might structure such a business.

> You know you pay $12/year or something and it just works. Nobody futzes with the UI, the amount of space you get/use is entirely a function of what you're willing to pay.

Id' argue Outlook UI changes with every version just as much as Gmail has. Gmail is also far less drastic, as updates are pushed regularly rather than a new version every 2 years or so. You can pay for GDrive and get 25GB for gmail.

E-Mail is a commodity and has been for quite some time. I don't see anyone disrupting the service side of it anytime soon.

I used to pay for Fastmail.fm as a mail service. It wasn't that cheap, but the top account which gave plenty of space and the ability to have my own domain wasn't expensive.

They kept the old versions of their web interface alive for many years after the active development of the 'default' moved on to different designs. Which was very helpful for me, as I much preferred their non-Javascript laden interface and kept the one I started with for many years of use.

I only moved on when I tripped their anti-spam/account hacked filter and didn't have my business e-mail for three days because the messages the interface gave me were misleading. Apart from that, I was very happy with them and they were very sensible about what they'd do with the interface.

As an aside, I think $12 a year is unrealistic for paid webmail as you'd need a good level of scale to make it pay for such a small amount. You're already talking about a service a small number of people want (interface staying the same and willing to pay for it) I'd expect you'd find the same people would be willing to pay enough to make the service worth running.

I think gmail is as close to a "mail as a service" as you can get. You can get your own domain pretty easily, and yes Google charges you for it.

You can hook up plenty of 3rd party native clients to it - if you want, you never have to use the web interface at all (9x% of my gmail usage is from Mac and iOS native clients).

True, and I pay for it for blekko.com, but there was no amount of money I could give them that would let me have the old gmail interface back. That was sad for me.

I've been able to get most of the old gmail interface back by following Jason Crawford's recommendations:


The stuff I cared about anyway. I agree it is sad.

I find multiple sign in a great way of ensuring you're always using the wrong account for each service.

If you're OK with having separate windows, you can use a different profile for each one. Chrome handles this much better than firefox. For example, I silo my facebook browsing with:

chrome --app=https://facebook.com --user-data-dir=/home/jewel/.profiles/facebook

The other thing I do is use a different google account for each of their services, so a policy violation in one won't shut off the service in another. For example, I have calendar@mydomain.com for google calendar, plus@mydomain.com for google plus, youtube@mydomain.com for youtube.

Chrome supports profiles through the UI now, check out the settings page (under the "Users" category). It makes switching between them (and knowing who you're using) easier by adding a user icon/switcher to the top-left of the window.

Chrome handles this much better than firefox.

How so? What can Chrome do that using the Firefox Profile Manager can't?

Firefox doesn't seem able to connect to a specific open profile and make a new window, if you run Firefox without --no-remote, it always opens a new window for the oldest instance, which makes keeping multiple profiles open a pain. If you close your browsing profile while your have your email profile still open, now the Firefox icon will open windows in your email profile.

If you make an icon for your various profiles that uses '--no-remote', you can only open one window with that icon. To open more you'll have to find the running instance.

I generally prefer Firefox so if I've missed something I'd love to know, but I searched high and low for a solution and in the end I gave up and swapped to Chrome. Now I have launchers for Facebook, etc. that behave exactly as you would expect. You click the Facebook icon and you get a Facebook window, running the Facebook profile.

How does this work? If I sign out in one tab, it signs me out in another tab, on Google Chrome. Just tested it.

I click on my account picture in the top right, then click on "Add account" and log into the other one. Presto, two accounts.

Disclaimer: I am about 99% certain this is not some weird internal Google feature (not on the gmail team, don't worry), but it's also been > 1 week since I had to go through this performance so I may have forgotten some detail.

And then when you click on some Google service it always logs you in with a wrong account. Good luck trying to add something to calendar by clicking to a link.

I assume this is hyperbole (I'm not sure what magic you're expecting...maybe something like intents where it asks you every time which account to use?), but the logic isn't complicated. It just uses the first account you logged in with. I'm usually signed in to two accounts (and have a gmail tab for each open right now), so I just sign in to the one I do my primary calendaring, etc in first.

If you really want to keep them separated, you should just use Chrome's multi user accounts or their equivalent in other browsers.


Actually, you explained the problem without noticing it: "It just uses the first account you logged in with." Maybe it should be default account? Because "first account" will always change in round robin fashion because cookies will expire first for the newer account (which is second) and then after you login it will become first.

I've just had a quick test and it actually does okay; clicking on "calendar" opens the calendar for the account I'm currently looking at.

I guess it might not work well if you click a random link somewhere with two accounts open simultaneously, although I have a bit of sympathy for them there because that does seem kinda tricky to solve.

Apart from Google's multiple signin, Chrome supports account profiles, so you can have two Chrome windows with completely different cookies, logins, everything.

Just click on your account name in gmail, hit add account at the bottom of the little menu, and bam more accounts in more tabs.

Here's how I do it using Google Chrome:

1. Sign in to personal Gmail by going to gmail.google.com 2. Sign in to work Gmail by going to mail.google.com/a/foo.com (obviously, replace foo.com with your work domain)

I'm pretty sure with Google you can link up to 10 accounts, and you can have as many Gmail windows open as you want for various accounts that are linked. So if you want five different Gmail tabs open at the same time, just link the accounts behind them and it's possible. I personally have two independent Gmail accounts open at all times.

Gmail might warrant a second look. I have not touched it in more than two years. Yahoo Mail is good enough for me to pay for their enhanced service, Google would have to offer something better.

The free Gmail is better than Yahoo's paid service, though.

As a long-time Yahoo mail user, I'd say basically any email service is better than Yahoo Mail, at least if we're talking about their webmail interfaces.

(Protip: http://us.mc598.mail.yahoo.com/mc/launch)

You certainly can. It works well except for 1) from time time you get an odd gmail error and the only way to get it working is to log out of all your accounts, and 2) it would be nice if there was an easier way to log into 8 gmail accounts at once. It's a pain setting up your 8 windows every time you get logged out.

You're an email hipster.

Good point about the Google account bans, though. See also: Skydrive.

Bad point about mixing personal and business email in one window, though. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

I don't think I said that I mix personal and business email in one window. Yes, that is a disaster waiting to happen.

No, the idea is to have tabs that you can organize based on the context you need. One tab would be personal. Another might emails from one business. The other might be setup for the other.

I wear a couple of hats, so, for example, I'd love to have a tab that's just "Business #1 Engineering" and a separate tab that's "Business #1 Business" and keep those "personalities" separate. My engineering email address is different from my business email address as I've found that this keeps the individual mailboxes cleaner overall. Just my preference. Doesn't make it right. I also have hundreds or rules and lots of VBA code in Outlook making sense out of the whole mess.

I wouldn't have been able to do what I've been doing over the last fifteen years without the level of programming and manipulation available in Outlook.

I find Sparrow does that so incredibly well. I use 2 accounts daily, and have 2 more for "spam" accounts. It works really well at separating and unifying them.

Alas, poor Sparrow! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite utility, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it.


Here's hoping that other email clients learn well from Sparrow's success.

I've asked the question before: is modern spam filtering not enough? I used to have several accounts to void spam, but that was pre-bayesian. Filtering works great now and I use the same email for everything and anything..

Gmail has "Preview Pane" option under the Labs tab in Settings. I don't use it personally, but I am pretty sure it has been there for at least a few years.

Any unpaid account has a chance of being shut down without recourse. I haven't heard of this happening with any Google Apps accounts though (especially paid ones). Anyone else?


Different strokes for different folks.

I realize this is Hacker News, but Outlook isn't the worst [email or otherwise] product someone can use.

Edit: The comment was originally:

"I've been using Outlook by choice" Sorry, but I just can't wrap my head around this. You say you have tried other clients and yet you keep coming back to Outlook? Did you only try a few web app clients a few years ago and not sense? Have you tried many other fat desktop and/or command line clients? I personally only interact with Outlook when my employer pays me to spend the extra time required to use Outlook. I am utterly baffled by your statement. Like when someone says they get up at 4am every day, but they are not in the military. Sure there might be some okay reasons to do that (a baby, international trading, long commute), but most normal people would still inquire for more information as getting up at 4am by choice is not normal.

I feel offended by your 4am statement... I really like getting up early and I don't know why so many people try to get up late - but I would never say they are not normal.

You offend easily.

Sorry, but how do I offend you?

What an arrogant comment. Can you tell us what it is you dislike so much about outlook and why, instead of inferring that the user base is unenlightened?

Even though it's no longer under development, I wonder if Thunderbird's default tabbed interface would meet your needs.

OMG, seems Yahoo Mail finally got https (I'm using the free version). Could be time for me to switch from Gmail.

Could you point me toward that multiple instance tweak? That's something I've wanted for a while.

Here are my notes on that (I'm running Vista 64 Ultimate):


Download and install "ExtraOutlook.exe" from:


Copy the executable to the folder where outlook lives. In the current case that means:

  C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\
Create a profile for each separate instance of Outlook we want to run:

To create and manage profiles in Vista 64 go to

  Control Panel > View 32-bit Control Panel Items > Mail > Show Profiles
Create or modify the Outlook shortcut on the desktop to access the desired profile:

Profile 1:

  "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\ExtraOutlook.exe" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /profile "Profile 1"
Make a duplicate copy and then...

Profile 2:

  "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\ExtraOutlook.exe" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /profile "Profile 2"
Now two instances of Outlook can be opened and each is independently accessing the corresponding profile's data.

I go through the extra effort of assigning a different icon to each account and placing them on the quick-launch toolbar. I've been doing this for about two years and it works great. No issues whatsoever.

I can't believe MS doesn't implement MDI in Outlook so that one can do this using tabs and a single instance.

Thanks for posting your notes. I'm running into a "Function not found in Import Table" error when I try that with Outlook 2010. Have you ever run into that?

No, I've never seen that. I'm running Office 2007.

"Your password can't be longer than 16 characters."

Well, it failed my test. Sorry. I never trust my emails to small hard to remember passwords. I rather trust them to very large easy to remember/type passwords. Like horses-functional-pickles

Also their capcha, I cannot figure out it, i won't spend more than 2 minutes on capcha

This threw me off as well. I thought Microsoft was supposed to be security conscious, but putting in small, arbitrary limits in places where they don't belong is not reassuring in the least.

They also make it insanely difficult to use a password manager, as the login page URL redirects from outlook.com to some randomness that's 205 characters long.

I can sympathize with it being a preview and all, but the consequence will nevertheless be that there will be a bunch of people out the who will enter <= 16-character-length passwords and forget all about them.

I mean, unless Microsoft explicitly prompt them with a reminder of sorts, when they flip the switch on a sane password length, but what are the odds of that happening?

Their captcha is _really_ frustrating. I spent well over 2 mins going through atleast 20 of them. This was the only ugly part of the new Outlook experience though.

"2 minutes on capcha"

That is generous. I dont like to spend more than 30 seconds max on capchas.

Passwords can't contain some set of characters either, including spaces. Just why....

Have you tried the audio version? It's even worse.

I tried the audio version because they kept putting "O" or zero in the captcha and it was too much of a guess. If a captcha is going to mangle characters, it must accept any of the possible valid options.

It's like they pursued test-driven development on the captcha but the only test was whether bots couldn't pass, not whether humans could pass it.

After only three attempts, it told me "You've reached the limit for number of attempts. These limits help us protect against spam from automated programs. You can try again later."

The audio captcha was so terrible that I recorded it to share with others. Oddly enough, when I played back my recording of it, it was easier to understand the "valid" words. That is very curious.

Oddly enough, I just reloaded the captcha page and it dropped me into an account and just won't let me send anything until I pass a captcha. I try every once in a while but any time I solve the captcha it gives me the rate-limiting message.

On a side note, they allowed me to sign in with my passport which does not have a Microsoft-provided e-mail address. The interface seems to presume it's responsible for my other e-mail address.

Not being able to use my personal method for making unique passwords totally killed creating an account for me as well.


In Outlook.com, click the settings icon and you'll see a feedback menu.

Nice UI, very light and simple, seems to be running fast even on my netbook. I guess I will start to use my 15 year old hotmail account again, good to finally have an alternative to Gmail.

Only one thing: Microsoft, I know its really chiq and en-vogue nowadays to have some element with position:fixed; on every page, but please: don't!

There is no reason whatsoever why I would want to see all the time the titlebar. I mean, why would I want to see it? I know I am using Outlook! I know who I am! And it's not very often that I want to access the settings!

But, I guess, there is no way around it, position:fixed; is just soooo "modern".

I hate position fixed stuff. I scroll a page, then have to scroll back a few lines because what I want to read next, instead of appearing next, is hidden under a titlebar that I really don't care about.

Stylish FTFW.

It's a pain maintaining override scripts for multiple sites, but pick your battles and you can make some positive improvements.

I saw in the video that the "send" button was in the Title bar [1], so I suppose it's important that it be fixed on the screen.

[1] at 55 seconds in the video. This link starts a couple seconds before that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDI6Itn7soQ#t=53

> But, I guess, there is no way around it

There's a ton of ways you can specify your own CSS for a website, depending on what browser you're using.

position:fixed is to make it more app like. Outlook on the desktop (and pretty much every other desktop app) works the same way, if you scroll down your inbox the menu bar doesn't go away.

I use both gmail and hotmail (or outlook.com now) and the titlebar in this case is the same as in gmail: it has the user-name of the person logged in, the "options" (gear icon), the send/reply/delete/new-email buttons. And actually with gmail the interface has the google logo and search input above the title-bar taking up an extra ~100 pixels.

One important reason why I am glad about Outlook.com as an alternative.

Not only is it getting harder and harder to read emails on a Netbook screen (there is almost no space left for the actual message), it is also getting painfully slow.

Gmail now loads and runs to much Javascript that my poor little Netbook can't even scroll smoothly anymore.

After playing with Outlook.com a bit, it seems much faster than Gmail.

Since Marissa Mayer is now at Yahoo, I expect a much improved Y!Mail soon.

It's not about remind you that you're on Outlook.com. It's about the tools it gives you. i.e. "toolbar".

Depending on where you are, the options on the toolbar change, and are really helpful.

I really like it.

Just tried it out and from my initial experience gotta say this isn't bad. The UI feels pretty clean and easy to read (which I always found to be an issue with gmails web interface). Doesn't look like you can use IMAP with it though so I doubt I will use it for my main email address anytime soon.

I sort of disagree. The UI is clean but things aren't where you expect them to be and it makes it confusing. For instance, I didn't know where to put the subject when I was sending my first email -- it's huge but it's weirdly placed and unintuitive. I also couldn't find the Send button at first because it's on the Nav bar -- not where I expected.

I also agree with the post below re: branding. I went to "Help" to see what they had and it took me to a windows.com page saying "This page doesn't exist" followed by "Hotmail Help". Nice.

I noticed that about the subject. It doesn't stand out. I get the same feeling from the Mail app for Windows 8. About halfway through this article there is a screenshot of a message being composed. The subject there seems equally hidden.


I had the same problems with the subject field and send button but it didn't take long for me to figure out the solution. Oddly, it seems very intuitive once I've figured it out.

Kudos to the Outlook design team for the clean UI that doesn't take long to get used to and is intuitive once you are used to it.

Just wanted to say that you can use the ctrl+enter shortcut instead of pressing send, like in Outlook.

You can also tab between "to:", "subject" and "body" parts of the email by just using tab (tab twice when finished entering email addresses).

I much prefer using a keyboard than a mouse.

I switch between Outlook and Gmail and frequently find myself wondering why ctrl + enter doesn't work in Gmail.

+1 on the send button placement. Also when I clicked on the emotiocons, I was expecting a popup to open right below the icon. But the emoticons panel opened up in the left sidebar, totally hiding the to list.

But, I do like the Metro UI, though. Clean!

Yes, things aren't where you would expect, but it quickly grows on you. It sure did on me. Sent 5 emails already ( just to my accounts :) and liking the UI

I agree 'send' could be better placed but the subject line is pretty obvious and placed where I would expect it. The 'to' field seems badly placed to me.

The subject line is in a good position, but it doesn't look like an input field si I overlooked it first... Similarly, the content area doesn't look like a text area - slightly confusing.

For me it was kick ass. Really loved the feel of it.


Disclosure: I work at MS, but not on this product and have no special insight into their workings.

The reason Outlook is the world's most used mail client is because people are often forced to use it to access their company email. While anecdotal, I don't know a single person that uses outlook because they choose to. However, hopefully, outlook.com can introduce some innovation in the space, although, I'm skeptical as I am with most Microsoft 'innovation.'

To give a counterpoint, I not only know maybe a half dozen people who voluntarily use Outlook; I know at least two who voluntarily use Outlook on a Mac.

I think the fact that few developers enjoy using Outlook is causing you to overgeneralize. Most people who don't care about things like whether their email is in mbox format, or who don't want to learn how to use Mutt or notmuch, find Outlook surprisingly easy to use and powerful.

I poked around on outlook.com, and I don't see anything particularly innovative, other than it looks and works nearly exactly like Outlook 2013. But I wouldn't assume its lack of anything novel dooms it to obscurity, either. Outlook, unlike Notes, is a positive brand-name in some circles. I wouldn't be surprised to see this get a relatively large amount of traction right off the bat.

Outlook on the Mac is actually a very decent client, and I prefer it over the other options.

I use Outlook 2011 on my Mac for the company Exchange email, contacts + calendaring. It's not bad at all, and Spotlight searching is very fast.

I use outlook on a mac to access my employer's email account ... and I'm a developer :)

That would be me with a Mac.

I know a good few people that willingly use Outlook, including ones who use it for their Gmail account. Its actually pretty good at being e-mail PLUS calendar PLUS tasks, and so on. Google still haven't got that yet IMO, by virtue of "Google Calendar" and "Google Mail" being two separate products.

Google Calendar is completely integrated with Google Mail in every way outlook is.

I didn't realize this myself, either, until I started working at an employer that uses the Google Apps stack for all things corporate.

We switched to Google Apps at my company. Out of 120 employees, there are still 37 using Outlook. Some of them use Gmail on the web periodically, but most of those 37 are adamant about not switching (even though the Outlook on Gmail experience is objectively terrible compared to in-browser).

I have a client who just switched to GMail, and most of the enterprise development team is in a state of revolt... apparently they are cracking down and removing outlook since people were just using the outlook client to get to their GMail.

One complaint I heard was the lack of sorting features (sorting your inbox by subject, sender, etc.) which also drives me nuts when I use Gmail on my personal account.

As a counterpoint, at my work you can choose what you use. All Windows users are using Outlook. Half of the Mac folks are using Outlook, then there are a couple Sparrow users and the rest use Mail.

I like outlook because to me usability and readability is better than Gmail.

It'd be nicer if Outlook.com acted as an Exchange client (not just an Exchange ActiveSync server). From the post, it looks like they're recommending people forward their email to a new @live.com email address. Bleh.

Good recommendation, I hope somebody in Redmond hears it and makes it happen. I'm fine with Outlook on the desktop, but never liked Outlook Web Access when I had to use it, Outlook.com would be head and shoulders above having to keep using OWA.

Outlook, like all of office, is the default choice of pretty much anyone in a non-tech office setting. These programs aren't just "chosen", they are expected.

The same way having a desk is expected.

Which is terrible. That's like everyone expecting their food to be bland and overcooked. It's almost Soviet in its depressingness.

No, it's like expecting their chair to have four legs and support their weight.

People that use software to do other things often aren't interested in how wonderful the software is, provided it stays out of their way and allows them to get stuff done in a way that they expect.

The marketplace for a beautiful desk is much smaller than the market for a functional, yet ugly, desk, especially if that nice desk can't fit through the door of my office without me removing the frame, etc.

Really, how many people do you know who use any email client by choice? Everyone I know just used webmail or the built-in client on their phone.

The only thing I really miss compared to GMail are vim key-bindings. The default key bindings are weird.

Sounds like a lot of interesting innovative features that a lot of people might use: social, quick-views, select-all-messages-from-sender..etc

I kind of have a problem with their design though. I guess it is all part of the Metro initiative which can look nice in some of their efforts (mobile) .. but here it just shouts at me something to the effect of: "I'm so new and cool and fresh that I don't need subtlety or pleasant earthy colors. Mail, People, Calendar, SKYDRIVE.. I dare you to click EVERYTHING!" Maybe I'm getting too old in my 30th year of life but that intimidates me more than it excites me.

Google is asleep at the wheel. This makes them look bad. Gmail blew the doors off every other webmail client when it launched 5 years ago but it's time for a rewrite. The fact that they used Gmail mobile as their "Gmail Offline" product in Chrome tells me that the current client can't be modernized. I only hope that is what the Sparrow guys are going to be working on, because Microsoft isn't the company you would expect to be leading in HTML5 innovation.

outlook.com's DOCTYPE:

    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" 

What is wrong with using xhtml?

That isn't "leading HTML5 innovation" but I got your point ;)

Ah, ok, I was talking about their use of CSS3 transitions primarily.

CSS3 is not [part of] HTML5. CSS3 is just what came after CSS2.

it's time for a rewrite

That sent a shiver down my spine. Please, Google, don't rewrite gmail. Continue improving incrementally. Thanks.

Gmail was only launched 5 years ago? I'm almost positive I had gmail at least in mid 2004.

Depends on how you define launch I guess. Gmail began as invite-only around 2004, I believe. Publicly available, but still in beta around 2007, and released from beta in 2009. If you use the publicly available date, then it's about 5 years.

cross-post from another thread because HN tends to bury things:

Wow. Very interesting. At first glance, the interface looks very mobile friendly and also very simple.

I'm incredibly impressed. The only feedback I would give is that the buttons in the top bar could stand out a bit - maybe a different shade of blue or a slight border. It wasn't immediately clear to me where 'send' was.

The ads are a bit more obtrusive than Google Mail ads, though I think that would just take a bit of getting used to.

I'm impressed as fuck, though. I can't explain how impressed I am.

Precious $DIETY, take my $APPENDAGE. Please let the next version of OWA look like this.

Signup captcha appears to be case sensitive (or something??). After try number 6 I give up. Nice work, Microsoft.

So I go to register at Outlook.com...

1. Enter details with a short, simple email address. Submit the form;

2. Sign up fails. I provided an alternative email address but not a phone number; apparently both are required for password recovery (why?), despite there being no indication both fields are required. Grudgingly give up phone number and try again;

3. Sign up fails. Apparently my phone number isn't valid, and I have to delete the first digit (0 in the UK, to be replaced by +44) for the form to accept it. Try again;

4. Sign up fails. For some reason the form has kept all my other details but has decided to lose the month and year of my DOB. Re-enter those details and try again;

5. Sign up fails. I was presented with the same CAPTCHA for the first three attempts but apparently it's now changed; Enter new CAPTCHA and try again;

5. Sign up fails. Finally, the form tells me the short, simple email address I chose is taken. There was no indication when I entered the address;

6. Give up and forget about it.

They don't allow the password to have more than 16 characters as well.

I'm pretty sure that it's because the username is already taken and the error message isn't showing up correctly on the page. They had me excited when I thought I could get my first initial and last name (both common names) as an email address.

I came here to also complain about the CAPTCHA. I almost gave up after the 4th try but I really wanted to see what this was all about. I don't know what they are thinking with that monstrosity.

it is likely the email id you are trying to use is already taken up. If you scroll up a bit, there may a error mark near the email field (I had this issue and but was trying to change the captcha).

The first couple of times I tried the error message wasn't even being shown, but when I changed the username it worked.

That did happen initially but then it only complained about the captcha

Well I'm not sure about you, but my hotmail id works with this. Unless, you don't have a hotmail id in the first place... in which case, ignore this comment.

Captchas everywhere are starting to get impossible for humans. MS should have solved this problem better though, they have the talent.

I've tried about a dozen of them; no luck so far in getting it right.

I've never been a fan of the GMail web UI so this is a very refreshing change. I've been ready to make the switch away from GMail for a while so it's nice to have another option. I was seriously considering iCloud mail but I have some reservations about how committed Apple is to iCloud.com -- the Mail UI isn't terrible but it lacks features. I really need server side mail rules for example. My only reservation about OutLook is that Microsoft has so much Google envy they might do all the same things that are driving me away from GMail. At least with Apple I know how the game works. I give them money and they give me a product/service. I'm good with that arrangement.

I think it will be a hard fight for mindshare, but Microsoft brings a ton to the plate. The Skype play could really gain them some ground.

As I think about it, Office was sortof like the original mashup (but applied to the desktop space). When they started integrating everything into Office (including the OS and the web browser) it started falling apart.

What I see with outlook.com is another mashup concept, but this time it is a very natural fit: the web is basically meant for this sort of thing.

And another thing: I use Skype. I am typing this on a mac, but I do have that one MS-owned property installed (Skype). This could be a vector that MS uses towards greater mindshare.

The comments on their Facebook announcement page[1] are surprisingly positive. I think it's worth remembering that while Hotmail and SkyDrive might not have 'mindshare' in Silicon Valley or even across the US, there's a large population of new and global users who have not yet formed opinions on the matter and, more importantly, are willing to try Hotmail out, especially when it's presented in a fresh and modern way like this.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.101510045341137...

Damn... it directly displays in Hindi language for me. I suppose their thought process is that if you have an indian IP, you must know hindi. What's more, even after I changed the language, some of the labels are still in hindi.

Few posts are bashing Outlook in general but I will take it anyday over the biggest piece of shit we have at work: Lotus Notes. It is one of my biggest pain points at work.

There's a blogpost on HackerNews' "best" links right now that complains that "Apple's new ads look like Microsoft made them" http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4313614

Interestingly enough, the ads created by Microsoft touting Outlook.com don't have any of these problems the blogpost associates with Microsoft ads. In fact, the ads excites me and compels me to at least try the product.

I logged in with my Microsoft account, which uses my work e-mail as the e-mail address. It happily presented me webmail for it.

That's going to confuse non-technical users. There's no indication that any replies are going to go right where it's supposed to, Google Apps...

Plus, when attempting to send, I get a captcha. Filling it out (correctly) gives me a "too many attempts" warning.

Suddenly my Gmail looks cluttered and old. Bonus, I got my name@outlook.com. That's a big win. Hope they make good stuff.

TL;DL: Thumbs down.

"Unsatisfactory" would be the word I'd use for the new outlook.com. Slow, terrible UI and UX, and I see no improvements on the junkmail filter at all.

I really would like to see MSFT getting better at this (or at anything, really; they are the underdog in so many categories of tech now). But they are not. I'm a Mac/Apple fan by choice. But I like competition in the market. And I do wish MSFT the best in getting it right (or somewhat right). But this is so far out there that I just don't know what they are thinking. To use the words "We think the time is right to reimagine email" is simply disingenuous -- the site didn't reimagine anything -- it looked like a re-skinned old hotmail to me in every aspect.

I will check it out again in a couple of months. Maybe they'll have time to fix enough problems that I'll change my mind then. But until that point, thumbs down.

This actually makes we want to use my hotmail account a lot more. For the longest time I used hotmail for junk emails and random signups to shield my true email address. Interesting how UI/UX can completely change your attitude toward a service (I never expected to change from Gmail until right now).

In terms of UI, the differences vs gmail seem trivial and possibly in the wrong direction. The three column format is identical; it is mainly cleaner because it removes useful features: inline email text preview, a prominent search box, navigation to other frequently used services, e.g. drive. On first glance sparse designs look better, but for frequently used software people tend to like the greater data density in practice. I also image that they will introduce l their own navigation bar to other services at some point, so that minor distinction would be temporary. On the hand it is far better than Microsoft's existing offering, and being able to integrate with third party social services rather than g+ is a substantial difference they should continue to run with.

There's a navigation bar to other services (click on the chevron next to the "Outlook" title). It's just less prominent and 2 clicks instead of one. Which I think is the right tradeoff, as wanting to navigate to another service isn't as common as Google would like it to be.

HN: Is this a feature or a bug?

My live id is a Gmail address. Went to Outlook.com, wanted to register but the form said 'login if you have a live id'. Did that, ended up on a very ugly hotmail-kind-of site.

Hrmpf. Went back to Outlook.com, but logged in now: The web interface lets me compose and send mails as me@gmail?

Confirmed. My Live account that I use for xbox live is my gmail account. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to login to outlook.com with my gmail address. However I am concerned about the ability to send email from outlook.com that is sent as the name of another provider.

In general that'd be fine. The sender address can be easily spoofed anyway - smtp works that way.

The thing is, this seems to be broken by design in my world. Google should (have to check that again) publish a record that lists 'official' mail servers for GMail.

This whole setup could work just fine, even if it's a bit weird. But right now I suppose you look like a crappy imposter to any receiver AND you can never receive emails (they .. would end up in your GMail inbox of course).

Try sending yourself an email. It will bounce back to that very same email address with a Delivery Status Notification from Hotmail's postmaster saying it couldn't be delivered.

I really like the way they use text in the user interface instead of graphical symbols. When Google introduced their new buttons it took some time to get used to remember which one did what.

Google has been probably quite successful in monetizing their web mail. It can be sometimes annoying for users, but I believe in the long run it is better to be using a system that has a viable business model behind it.

One thing where Microsoft could compete would be support for third party apps. I think there could be some possibilities for innovation on this area. Something that would strike a balance between security and flexibility. With GMail the options seem to be either gadgets (pretty limited) or giving full IMAP access to 3rd party apps (too much power).

This looks really nice, but what's up with the URL?


Doesn't look like outlook.com to me.

looks like they haven't migrated all the boxes to the new outlook.com domain yet

I would hope that if they want to sway people back they'd do what gmail did to the garbage web apps around the time of its launch. I don't see anything groundbreaking in the video/screenshots. Do is it offer anything unique?

The UIs on this and even iCloud's webmail are so much better than Gmail's that I consider them functional improvements. They're clearly designed to make the most common use cases ergonomic and let you focus on the task at hand. Unlike Gmail, whose loud interface has no delineation between functional areas and bombards me with seldom used options.

When e-mail is one tab among 12 in my browser, I find this kind of focus and simplicity to be a real advantage.

Starting to see a trend with Metro apps where they're sacrificing UX for candy.

The UX for this is a nightmare:

- It's not clear that the Subject is editable (doesn't look like it's in a text box nor does the label look like a placeholder).

- Clicking on BCC opens a CC box with a drop-down that covers the BCC field.

- The Send button looks like a main navigation menu, where I'd expect clicking on it would navigate away from the page (and not send the email)

- The Rich text buttons look part of the content, a light shade of grey wouldn't add any pixels but would provide separation between function and content

Back to gmail....

It'd be nice if Microsoft worked on their spam technology along with upgrading the UI.

Just logged in to my @live.com account - 4814 messages in my Inbox, 17 in my Spam folder.

Guess how many in my Inbox are legit messages? None.

There is currently a bug that I stumbled across that allows for spoofed emails to be sent.

If you have a Live account that has an external e-mail address Microsoft allows you to login here, without any additional authentication credentials, and actually will send e-mails using the account's original address. In my case this was my Gmail address.

Overall the requirement of Silverlight is a little annoying, but the same as usual for Microsoft. The UI itself doesn't look bad, and I actually prefer it to generic Gmail theme.

You might have already verified your Gmail when you first signed up for the Microsoft account.

It says "Modern experience for modern browsers and devices.". Is that just an empty sentence or are they using a better engine? The paragraph after just talks about pixels and white space.

EDIT: More of the same, apparently: http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft-outlook/archive/2012/07/...

People that use Outlook also tend to have more... valuable conversations in their inbox and demand more in terms of security and privacy from their mail providers. I hope that as part of courting this group of users to outlook.com, Microsoft has invested in things like S/MIME, PGP, 2FA, and other security enhancements. I haven't signed up, but can someone who has give an outline of what security features they are advertising?

So I need to give my phone number to send an email or solve a captcha ?

I go for the captcha. 20 tries, no luck. Let's try audio. Impossible.

[EDIT] And now, a really funny one I just got :

  We've noticed some unusual activity in your Outlook account. To help protect you and
  everyone else, we've temporarily blocked your account.
  To unblock it, please {0}.
Well, alright, I'll {0}.


I just signed up and the first thing I see is a bar of bing ads selling me $500 TVs or something. On my gmail (I just checked) I don't even see an ad (does web clip count?). You'd think a billion dollar tech company can afford not to force product on me.

The second thing I see is, wow, this looks really nice.

But, that was the second thing, first I felt like I was at Best Buy. I don't have a TV and I don't even want a TV, go away!

I see at least two ads on my gmail homepage at all times. One line above the inbox, one below.

When I'm in an email, there will be one to several contextual ads (sometimes hilariously mistargeted) on the right.

Do you not see these?

No, I don't see any! I just checked my gmail, and two apps accounts. Add a screenshot? I would, but there's nothing to see here!

Do you have paid or non-profit apps accounts that are tied to the gmail? I don't see ads on my non-profit apps/gmail

That's because gmail ads typically are not on the mainpage, but they are there when you read individual emails (in the side bar).

Hm I see... Here's some screenshots of the ads...



I can't see an option to disable the loading of external content. It just seems to happen by default. Am I missing something, or does it not exist?

The promo video heralds it as email without 'creepy ads', but I signed up and without doing anything it displays 5 ads from restaurants in my town.

It can pull that off without reading your mail, which has been Microsoft's primary marketing complaint re Gmail.

It's still copying strings and passing them between functions, which is still a type of "reading" if you want to play by the fast and loose definitions of Microsoft's marketing teams.

I understand the distinction, but if you're going to target me with ads solely based on where my IP says I'm from, you might as well just scan my mail and give me relevant ads.

In my old account accessed via outlook.com, I see no ads. In a new account I just created I see ads from Restaurant.com. Not sure what gives.

It's a pwn at GMail, by Microsoft. :)

The ads at the right really bother me. Product ads and deal ads with big $ signs and "% off" feels much more intrusive than a google text ad.

Finally, someone gets rid of the "Compose" button.

1- Get excited. 2- Create account. 3- Provide alternate e-mail address for security during signup 4- Login to the site. 5- See that outlook.com found out your facebook profile picture using your alternate e-mail address and started using it in outlook.com 6- Get turned off immediately. 7- Close browser, to never ever login to outlook.com, ever again

Its definitely faster than the gmail interface.

I'm sorry have to disagree with this. Just signed up for a fresh, empty outlook account and every time I click on anything there is a noticeable 0.5-1 second lag not including the little slidey animations (I'll admit I AM on a rather ancient computer here at work). But at the same time I have over a gig of e-mail in my Gmail and almost every action is nearly desktop-fast (the speed with which emails come up after doing a search is faster than a file-search on windows)

Perhaps. I have 10K emails in my gmail account and 3 in my outlook.com account. We'll have to see how it goes in the long run. But I'm seriously thinking about making the switch for a while.

Are you archiving emails in gmail? I've found that keeping my inbox clean helps the performance of the site.

The desktop Outlook application epitomizes everything I hate about enterprise software. I've been forced to use it by my last few employers, and outlook-induced frustration has been a frequent source of conversation among my colleagues.

If MS wants to start a new email service, the Outlook name is a sure guarantee that we won't want to use it.

I tried going to outlook.com and it immediately kicked me out with a "cookies required" page. How is it sensible for any web site, anywhere, to make this the visitor's first impression? Even if a site does need cookies somewhere, I think it's ridiculous to design something that requires a cookie all the time.

I love how they give a history of webmail progress but totally understate what Gmail did for webmail and why it is so widely liked. Gmail did more than give a bigger inbox. It changed the game for web interfaces, especially webmail. Looks like Outlook is just imitating the Gmail look & feel.

I find it baffling Microsoft doesn't support IMAP access to any of their e-mail properties. You're stuck with POP3 or else a webmail client when on the desktop.

They do offer Exchange Activesync for mobiles, but without EWS or IMAP you can't really complete the circle and give customers a decent email experience.

Outlook 2013 supports EAS.

Interesting, thank you! Now to wait for it to come to the Mac. :)

If you are curious, this is a reskin of hotmail.com. It's still a separate codebase from the Exchange-backed OWA. Check out the preview of Office 365 and compare it to this experience, and you'll notice that the two are subtly different.

This is very interesting to see them converge the brands.

Initial impressions are positive. It looks feature wise (space, the other Office apps), that's comparable to Gmail for many people. I think I'll play around with it to see if it sticks. It's nice to see some competition and MSFT stepping up and improving this. Props.

This looks so much better than the Metro-ized ribbon disaster of the desktop preview that was released. It's actually looks a bit better that the new Gmail which I like as well.

The problem with M$ products of course, which makes us all very skeptical is how well it actually works.

Does the new outlook.com support tags in addition to hierarchical folders? This is what I love about GMail. Plus, I generally hate the way the MS WYSIWYG editor has a live of its own and makes quoting of passages from received emails into multi-font nightmares.

I just wish there was an open source project as good as GMail and maybe the new Outlook for a browser-based email you can run everywhere. Native clients are nice but they are native, so you can't take them with you (Different devices, operating systems).

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