Microsoft is (re)launching Outlook.com and consolidating its various “free” email service domains under the Outlook.com brand in an effort to regain the former glory it once held with Hotmail.com which has since fallen to a distant third behind Google’s Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Microsoft estimates it will be spending anywhere from $30 to $90 million in marketing in all the major media over the next 3 months on a combination of attack ads aimed at Gmail users as well as informational campaigns they hope will help persuade users to switch (back, in many cases) to Microsoft.
What this means for you:
If you already have a Hotmail.com or MSN.com email address and you haven’t already converted over, you’ll be migrated over to Outlook.com gradually as Microsoft consolidates the services under the new brand. If you are considering switching (or opening another webmail account), the only feature Outlook.com is offering that differs from the competition is Contacts stored in your online address book will automatically update information based upon information available on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Gmail does this with G+ but you have to resort to third-party extensions and services to mine the other social media sites for this information. Beyond this feature, Outlook.com is mostly playing catch-up to Gmail, though their marketing dollars may steal some of Yahoo’s marketshare despite the company’s revamp of its webmail service a little over a year ago.