Microsoft's new Outlook.com takes aim at Gmail

Microsoft Outlook.com gives Hotmail a major reboot, while Google brings the best features of Google+ to Gmail

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Back to the cleaner GUI, Outlook.com gives users a drop-down menu for one-click access for jumping among Mail, People, Calendar, and SkyDrive. (Each app has its own Metro-esque tile.) What's more, Outlook.com links seamlessly to the free Office Web Apps, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, with which users can view and edit attachments from their inbox.

Microsoft's new Outlook.com takes aim at Gmail

Jones also highlighted the privacy features in Outlook.com, possibly as a swipe at Google, which is notorious for scanning emails for keywords to serve up relevant ads: "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."

If any of the aforementioned features sound familiar, it might be because you've read up on Outlook 2013, which Microsoft unveiled in Preview mode earlier this month. Like Outlook.com, Outlook 2013 offers Exchange ActiveSync support, which brings push-based email, appointments, and contacts via supporting email servers and services; the new approach to displaying and managing messages; social connectors to LinkedIn, Facebook, et al; integration with Calendar, SkyDrive, and Microsoft Office Web Apps; and portability among desktop and mobile clients.

Hotmail users, by the way, can upgrade to the Outlook.com preview by clicking Upgrade in the options menu of Hotmail; email addresses, passwords, contacts, old emails, and rules will remain unchanged. Users also can send and receive messages from their Hotmail.com, MSN.com, and Live.com addresses.

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