New Email Client Available: Outlook.com!
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that Outlook.com will be the new home of Hotmail users—all hundreds of millions of them. After hearing the news, we started working on getting screenshots and Interactive Testing available for Outlook.com.
Today we are pleased to announce that it’s ready and all current Litmus subscribers can start testing with Outlook.com in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome immediately!
Rendering in Outlook.com
Our development team took a quick look at what’s making Outlook.com tick. It looks as though the same preprocessor used for Hotmail (MS SafeHTML) has been ported over to Outlook.com. However, the CSS prepending behavior in Outlook.com appears to be new. Despite this change, it doesn’t look like rendering in Outlook.com is much different than Hotmail rendering. Our friends at Campaign Monitor confirmed this, stating, “Outlook’s CSS support remains identical to that of Windows Live Hotmail.”
There are some quirks we noticed, though. As Ros at Campaign Monitor pointed out, Microsoft’s ‘Segoe UI’ will be used for displaying h1, h2 and h3 headings unless another font is specified in your CSS. We also noticed that the default color for headings is white (!) and that paragraph tags will default to Calibri set at 15px.
The lesson here is to be sure your emails contain CSS rules specific to your desired look and feel, or risk inheriting elements from Microsoft’s brand book.
Similar to Outlook 2013, the Outlook.com interface is clean and simple, borrowing cues from the “Metro” styling reminiscent of Windows Phone design elements. While the minimalist interface provides a stage for your email to shine, I also wonder if the lack of contrast from the surrounding chrome may give mostly-white emails a disadvantage in the inbox as compared to Hotmail.
Outlook.com will retain all of the spam-fighting features rolled out with their Graymail enhancements, including Schedule Cleanup, SmartScreen filtering and persistent flags.
In an IAmA with a portion of the Outlook.com development and marketing team, a representative explained why users should switch to Outlook.com:
We think it’s time for something new. We focused on a clean modern UI, making your email connected to the services you really use, like Facebook and Twitter… we think your privacy is really important, so we don’t scan your email to show you ads.
Here are a few resources on the subject of Outlook.com now being the home of Hotmail users:
- MSNBC’s GadgetBox. “Microsoft’s new Outlook mail is a welcome Hotmail replacement.” Wilson Rothman explains why he welcomes this announcement and applauds Microsoft for their innovation.
- Campaign Monitor. “Value, Hotmail: What Microsoft’s new Outlook means to email senders.” Ros covers the history of Hotmail and some rendering quirks.
- CNET. “Microsoft Outlook.com e-mail.” Outlook.com may have similar attributes to Gmail’s design, but Microsoft goes a long way in making it its own.
- The Next Web states that ”Outlook.com is a well-designed webmail product that has the potential to reverse Microsoft’s lengthy slide in the product category to Google’s Gmail.”
- Mashable and ReadWriteWeb offer comprehensive tours through the new Outlook.com