Gmail vs. Outlook.com

\"Outlook.comI am testing Microsoft Office 2013 suite in my PC and I immediately recognized the change of Outlook\’s icon color from yellow to blue. I thought there has to be a reason for that change. Several weeks ago I had no clue what it meant but now its obvious. Outlook is the new free webmail service replacing Hotmail. I think for branding reasons Microsoft had to change the traditional yellow color of Outlook to blue so that it would be more recognizable in the web.

Gmail has been my number one choice since Google introduced it and I never looked back at Hotmail or Yahoo. Today, I still keep my old Hotmail and Yahoo email addresses for the sake of keeping one.

However after the announcement was made and Outlook.com went live, it is very tempting to take a deeper look at Outlook.com. Microsoft made a very bold move in re-imagining  email from the failed attempts of Live mail and Hotmail brand.

The following are the top features which might give you a reason to dump Gmail for Outlook.com

1. Unlimited Storage Space

Gmail has more than 10GB of storage space and still counting (slowly). On the other hand, Outlook.com has virtually unlimited space. It allocates more space as you demand more space as long as you don\’t fill your inbox too fast or if you don\’t do anything shady.

If you deal with very large email and it is important to you, you will not worry about storage space at all. Outlook.com also has the functionality to manage big email eating up your inbox space. You can easily sort the size in ascending or descending order.

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2. Bigger File and Attachment Support

Outlook can support up to 100Mb attachment and if you link your account to SkyDrive it is upgraded to 300Mb file size limit. In contrast, Gmail only supports 25Mb. This is not a problem if you use Google Drive or Dropbox but the tight integration with SkyDrive gives Outlook.com easier sharing  of big files.

3. Email Alias

Hotmail email alias had been around for some time but Yahoo had this feature for the longest time I could remember.

It is a very helpful in giving a disposable email address. What is unique in Outlook.com is the functionality to completely change your email address and/or username. If you are switching from Hotmail.com email address, Outlook.com automatically creates an alias to forward incoming emails from your old Hotmail.com email address.

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4. Quick Views

Gmail has labels which essentially works like folders but unlike folders, you can put different labels on your emails with Gmail.

With Outlook.com, Microsoft is not throwing away folders but this time they are introducing Quick Views. With Quick Views Outlook.com can automatically detect newsletter, social updates, bills, and other content categories automatically so that you can organize and clean up your inbox faster.

If you want to view every pictures sent to you, you can just go to Photos category and Outlook.com will show all emails with pictures. You also get to preview and browse all the pictures in a slideshow. Same with documents. If you wish to get only the emails with attached documents, spreadsheet or slide presentation then you can go to Documents category and access your documents right away.

You can go to where you want faster in fewer clicks. For me, Quick View is  smarter than Gmail\’s priority inbox. It is more flexible and you can always create your own category depending on the rules you create. Think Quick Views like smart Libraries in Windows.

For power users Gmail is still more flexible in tailoring your own filter rules but for an average joe, Outlook.com gives powerful options that anyone can easily understand.

5. Sweep

This one-click clean up scheduling gives you a  convenient way to delete emails from  someone or move/archive all emails from one folder to another.

You can even set the age of the email that you wish to delete or move.

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This feature was inspired by Office Outlook; Added in Hotmail way back in 2010 and then carried forward in Outlook.com. Gmail has no equivalent feature to automate deletion of emails that you do not want to keep.

6. Recover Deleted Email

Outlook.com can recover deleted messages even if you have permanently emptied deleted email folder. Outlook.com will recover as much as it can recover and it is very useful when you accidentally deleted an email permanently. I know how stupid it sounds but it happens.

What I am not sure is how long Microsoft stores deleted emails. I am guessing there is a threshold on how long they keep deleted emails. However, there is a privacy setting to disable this feature if you are worried about Microsoft keeping your deleted emails.

7. Privacy

Speaking of privacy, Microsoft claims that they never scan email content. For some people this is great advantage over Gmail.

Also, there is no annoying ads in Outlook.com right now but that doesn\’t mean it won\’t have in the future.

What\’s interesting is that Outlook.com does not keep history of your instant messages by default. Compare this to Google and Yahoo — both companies keep instant messages record by default.

Microsoft\’s  selling point here is that you are in control of your data when you use Outlook.com. Let\’s hope so.

8. Office Suite Integration

Outlook.com comes with the online version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Not to mention it comes with SkyDrive integration as well. If you were able to test SkyDrive during its beta period you might have enjoyed the permanent 25Gb storage upgrade for free so it\’s great for storing your documents online.

The advantage of Office web apps over  Google Docs is still debatable. On one hand, Google Docs is a departure from the usual document editing that we go used to. However, Office web apps are trying to incorporate the same web elements in its Office web apps suite, for free! You got to love Google and Microsoft competition.

I like both Google Docs and Offices web apps so Gmail vs. Outlook.com is not as easy as choosing between apple vs. orange.

Of course, for people who use Office suite exclusively Office web apps is a no-brainer.

9. Social Integration

Get updates and connect with your friends right from your inbox. You can chat with your Facebook friends not to mention you can also link Twitter and LinkedIn. It\’s like having a simpler version of Rapportive built inside Outlook.com. It totally rocks!

Later on, Microsoft will also integrate Skype which is like de-facto standard for online voice and video calls. I\’m sure that it will drive a lot of interest, too, but Microsoft is yet to show us how it will be done.

Gmail is only integrated with Google+ and Hang out is a unique feature only found in Google+. Still, Social integration in Outlook.com is one step higher. You get multiple social network support which is much-needed by social media enthusiasts.

10. Refreshing Design and Mobile Experience

For me, the most important reason why you should take a look at Outlook.com is the refreshing design concept and modern look. Microsoft has made a very  clean user interface — in fact much cleaner than Gmail in my opinion. There is no menu for other Microsoft services but it is integrated deeply with other services.

The UI is responsive and the Windows 8 inspired design speaks for itself. The design is also optimized for mobile devices and shows the dedication of Microsoft in delivering the best mobile experience for users.

To use Outlook.com on your phone or tablet, you can use the instructions from Microsoft.

I have included a short walk-through of Outlook.com — let me know what you think in the comments below.

What\’s your opinion about Gmail vs. Outlook.com?

 

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  • Outlook definitely but it will take time for me to shift from Gmail to Outlook. All our college communications happens in Gmail. So it will take time to make the leap.

  • The trouble with quite some of these features is that Gmail has had them in one form or the other for quite some time. That is not to say that Outlook.com looks and works bad: on the contrary, I like it. The minimalistic design works very well even. However, to former Hotmail users now turned Gmail this might all seem as a ‘me too’ story. The rate of development (with Labs) of Gmail was a lot higher for a long time, until Hotmail did quite a bit of catching up in recent years.

    However, Gmail has grown so fast in the past 8 years (425 Million users as of July 2012, vs about 400 Million for Hotmail/Outlook.com) that people might be reluctant to move (again). Also, quite some companies and freelancers use Google Apps instead of Office, to have all their work stuff anywhere they are, backed up in the cloud. Microsoft has been catching up with that too with Office 365 and now the new Outlook.com: the big question is: is it just in time, just too late, or a ‘meh’ evolution?

    Also, there’s the thing of reputation (just a mental thing). If you applied for a job with a [email protected] address, it could be taken less seriously than applying with [email protected]. Now it would become [email protected]: would you put ‘more’ reputation on that than on @gmail.com? :)

    • I totally understand where you are coming from. I used Hotmail 8 years ago.

      If you used Hotmail before but migrated to Gmail many years ago, it’s Microsoft’s job to convince us, the users, that this is not just a one-time thing. Google has been very consistent with Gmail brand and experience but Outlook.com comes out like a very risky experiment. To be honest I am afraid that this might become the next Live.com — where is Live now? It’s dead.

      Overall, what I like about Outlook.com is the re-imagination of web email experience. It should be able to spark more competition from Google if it proved to be a threat. In effect, it will drive more improvement in Gmail as well.

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