Microsoft recently announced their new Outlook.com service, a successor to Hotmail. Most likely however, its too little too late. Hotmail was wildly popular in the late 90’s and still has around 370 million users worldwide. But some missteps in usability and some major security flaws, coupled with the debut of Google’s Gmail in 2007 has put Hotmail in a tailspin ever since. Is this finally Hotmail’s chance for a recovery?
After the release of Gmail over 5 years ago, Microsoft has finally updated the look for
Hotmail Outlook and given it a fresh clean design. Other than that, Outlook really isn’t offering anything that Gmail doesn’t have, so there isn’t much incentive to switch back. Especially for Millennials who have little reason to start using that email@example.com address again. Even if you wanted to create a new account, the only option for an address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotmail.com domain is probably more associated with spam and throw-away email addresses than it is with professional users. Email and web standards are still a problem for Microsoft, the same company that decided it would be a good idea to use MS Word’s rendering engine to power their email client. Which continues to cause endless hours of frustration for email designers and developers who painstakingly try to get emails to render properly in Outlook.
Is it too little too late for Microsoft’s online email service? Probably not, Outlook is a (long over due) step in the right direction, but it still has a lot of catching up to do, both in the desktop email client and the newly branded Outlook.com arena. Adding an email rendering engine that is standards compliant and allowing users to get addresses at a domain other than hotmail.com would definitely help breathe life back into a once great service.