Microsoft's Outlook.com team has just announced a few updates to its webmail service. On top of this, the email service now has a dedicated app for Android. Will Microsoft be successful in luring Gmail users away?
Microsoft says over a third of Outlook.com users are active Gmail users wanting to try out Microsoft's new webmail service. Curious as to what Gmail users are looking for in a web email service, the team did more research into the behaviors and preferences of email users, and found out that Gmail users actually loved Outlook.com. According to the developers, among the top reasons are a clean design, spam blocking and the ease of sharing photos and Office documents.
In fact, Microsoft says four out of five persons involved in their research wanted to switch from Gmail to Outlook.com. The test sample was a bit small, though, with only “hundreds of Gmail users” being part of the research. What's quite interesting is that the respondents say what lured them into Outlook.com are features that are actually present in Gmail, such as keyboard shortcuts, conversation threading, tab/send (another keyboard shortcut for quickly sending an email), and quick access to search operators.
In even better news (for Outlook users, at least), Microsoft has announced the release of its dedicated app for Android. Sure, it may not exactly compete with the tight Gmail integration into Android devices, but if you or your organization rely on Outlook.com email, then this might be a good opportunity to go mobile.
Android devices do support Outlook out of the box, but the developers say there is a lack of consistency in native support for Exchange ActiveSync across the various Android versions, releases and devices. As such, the new Android app is available via the Google Play Store for free. The app should work for all Android devices from version 2.x up.
The app offers features you would expect from an email app, including push notifications, multiple accounts, and calendar and contact sync. But early reviews say the interface is uninspired and even outdated, which doesn't do justice to the web version of Outlook.com.
If you ask me, I find the Outlook.com interface really clean and easy to use — at least on the Web. But since I've already been invested in Gmail for the past eight years or so (plus half a dozen inboxes running on the Google Apps platform), I'm sticking with Google. However, if this data has piqued your curiosity, then go ahead and try out Outlook.com either on the web or mobile.