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Microsoft launches Outlook.com, begins phasing out Hotmail

July 31st, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Microsoft (MSFT) is giving its email application a much-needed makeover. On Tuesday Microsoft’s Outlook Blog took the wraps off of Outlook.com, a new online email portal that cleans up the traditional inbox user interface and adds several social networking features to the mix. On the inbox side, Outlook.com automatically detects emails that are newsletters and puts them into their own separate folder while also giving users the option to easily stop receiving newsletters with a one-click “unsubscribe” button. The new inbox also allows for message “sweep” operations where Outlook will only keep the very latest message from a given sender and will delete all previously sent messages.

On the social networking side, Outlook.com syncs up with most of the usual suspects including Facebook (FB), Twitter and LinkedIn, and also updates contact information whenever anyone changes information in their Facebook or Twitter profile. Outlook.com also automatically filters all social networking emails detailing status updates into their own specific folder thus further eliminating inbox clutter without any additional user input. Outlook has incorporated Facebook’s instant messaging system as well, so users can connect through IM with their Facebook friends directly from their inboxes.

Finally, the new Outlook.com will give users access to Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools including Microsoft Word, Excel, SkyDrive and PowerPoint right from their inboxes. Microsoft promises that it will soon add Skype video calling capabilities to its Outlook.com inbox as well, meaning that users will be able to have video chats with one another directly through their email system rather than going through a separate app.

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