The super-successful emailing tool that was so many people’s first foray into the world of electronic mail is long due a make-over after sixteen years of life and eight years since it’s last upgrade. But it’s not all good news for the Hotmail switch to Outlook.com.
Although Hotmail boasts a good 350 million users, Google mail, established in 2007 has since cleaned-up in the sector, with 425 million users (according to them) now signed up. The seemingly out-dated interface and uninspired functionality will be replaced with a new-look Outlook, available to preview on Outlook.com. This upgrade will be just one part of an all-over Windows overhaul that will include a revamp of Office and the Windows Operating system in general. Naturally, social networking will be integrated to make use of Facebook and Twitter easier through Outlook and the annoying adverts constantly peering at us from the sides of the screen will be minimalized so you can actually focus when you’re working.
Admittedly, the news did give me pangs of nostalgia. I had flashes of all my years on Hotmail and could foresee a difficult switch-over and loss of data. Apparently there have already been some issues with the switch, prompting Windows to release step-by-step instructions to help struggling users. Millions have already made the change to Outlook.com but many of them have flooded Windows forums with complaints of lost emails, being re-directed without their consent and not being able to access the site at all. It’s no secret people rarely take change well, especially when their personal records, information and emails are concerned but calls for the change to be abandoned all together are not looking good for Windows. According to one complainant, “You will lose all [your] personal data when you do this, so make sure you have [it]backed up.” Windows has also warned that the change can be quite involved, with the users’ new email address and password needing to be changed across Microsoft services and Windows phones needing to be reset to factory settings and set-up again under the new account name. So for now, Windows will allow old addresses to be kept. There have also been criticisms about the new look being ‘chunky’ and clinical but to be honest I like the simple interface, the lack of colourful distractions and the overall simplicity of it. It’s an email tool after all.
Although the major decision to re-direct users to Outlook was influenced by growing rivalry from Google, Yahoo and AOL, the move is probably a good idea in general considering all the changes in networking and communication since the email giant was launched. Chris Jones, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows Live said of the change – “We realised that we needed to take a bold step, break from the past and build you a brand new service from the ground up.”