Aug 27, 2012 / 5:00 am
Say hello to Outlook.com. And Windows 8 is just around the corner.
Hotmail gets an Extreme Makeover as Microsoft launches Outlook.com
Gmail is the standard by which all web-based email services are judged. Poor old Microsoft Hotmail (formerly Windows Live Hotmail, MSN Hotmail, and HoTMail) just isn’t taken seriously by tech-savvy folks. But now Microsoft is rolling out a completely redesigned version of their web-based email service. They could have called it anything, but Microsoft’s Department of Confusingly Named Products elected to call their new email Outlook.com (http://outlook.com/).
Nope, it has no real relationship with Outlook, the desktop email client that’s part of Microsoft Office. Like its confusingly named predecessors and unlike the real Outlook, Outlook.com is both free and web-based.
Leaving aside the name, Outlook.com is a very nice looking web-based email service. It is not cluttered with stupid ads (at least not yet), and just looks very clean in comparison to Hotmail and even to Gmail, which can really pile on the ads.
Outlook.com handles attachments nicely, both the ones you receive and the ones you want to send. Your Outlook.com email is linked to Microsoft Skydrive (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/skydrive/home) so you can attach huge pictures and let Skydrive and Outlook deal with making it easy for your recipients to get them. If you receive a PowerPoint slideshow, it’s a straightforward process to play the slideshow, provided you already have PowerPoint Viewer (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=13) installed on your computer.
If you like, you can let Outlook.com have access to your Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn contacts and content. And, like Gmail, you can let Outlook.com have access to your POP email accounts. Unlike Gmail, there is no support for IMAP at this time.
If you have a Hotmail or Livemail account (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or live.ca) your account will soon be converted to Outlook.com whether you like it or not. If you have an address like that now, you can get your new Outlook.com address and fold in your old live or hotmail address. It’s very easy to do, if you follow the instructions carefully and resist the urge to just start clicking on things.
Anyone can go to Outlook.com and create a new account, so if you have the same name as a lot of other people who are not you, you might want to head over there now and create your account even if you don’t plan to use it now.
Windows 8 is coming
Windows 8 is the next operating system from Microsoft. Computer manufacturers just received the final version of it this month and everyone expects to see new computers with Windows 8 on them before Christmas.
Windows 8 will look and feel dramatically different from Windows 7. Here is a preview: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview?ocid=O_WOL_W8R_OandO_Other_EN-US. Made for touch screen technology, it will be driven by “charms” that look like colourful boxes you touch to start an application. The usual predictions of doom and destruction are ramping up. Do not panic.
You do not have to have a touch screen computer to use Windows 8, you can use a mouse. You can use a mouse even if you do have a touch screen computer. It will be different, and it will take some getting used to, but Microsoft is not taking our mice away from us.
You don’t have to use Windows 8 at all if you don’t want to until at least January 2020. If you’re running Windows 7 now and you don’t want to upgrade, then don’t! Windows 7 will enjoy mainstream support from Microsoft until January 2015 and extended support until January 2020. You’ll still be able to buy a copy of Windows 7 for a year and a computer with Windows 7 loaded on it until October 2014.
If, on the other hand, you are eager to adopt this new version of Windows and you want a computer before they’re readily available with Windows 8 installed, you can get a Windows 7 computer now with an upgrade to Windows 8 when it becomes available for under $15 (USD). See this article for more: http://www.winsupersite.com/blog/supersite-blog-39/windows8/windows-8-pro-pc-upgrade-cost-15-143077. In fact, if you purchased a Windows 7 PC since June 2, you’re eligible for the upgrade.
What are your plans? Will you embrace Windows 8? Have you tried Outlook.com? What do you think?
I welcome your comments and questions. I can also visit your home or office to help you and your computer get along. Call me at 250-764-7043, email email@example.com or visit Computer Care Kelowna on the web.
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