Microsoft is making another attempt to draw users into their Cloud Solutions by integrating their new email account with their other online services. Of course this is an Ad-based service but the ads are quite unobtrusive as you can see on the image to the right. As you work around the screen you will see that it has been given the Windows 8 start screen look and feel (what was know as Metro Style a few short days ago).
From this menu option that you can get into by clicking on the Outlook object at the top left of the screen you have access to your mail, contacts, calendar and documents that are located out on SkyDrive. With a new account you will be allocated 7gb’s of storage on your associated SkyDrive and of course have free access to web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
All of the web based applications have been updated so they show the ribbon interface but they are still limited as compared to the full desktop versions of Office. However, I can’t but admit that for most of our uses, these versions are more than adequate for day in and day out usage. I downloaded the OneNote app onto my Nexus 7 but it crashes instantly. Must be something to do with either the screen size or the version of Android.
You can pull contacts in from several different sources including Gmail, Outlook desktop, Facebook and Hotmail. You have the ability to connect any ICS based calendar system to your calendar display as well. You can use a modified calendar entry to create ToDo lists for the calendar as well. One complaint that I have is that your ToDo List doesn’t' show up on the Agenda Tab. For the way that I would use it, I would like some tab to consolidate all the date/time oriented entries.
Email is setup using one of two grouping functions.You can view your email from folders that you create. Shown in the image to the right, notice that I have multiple levels of folders in the Test Folder. To create a new folder on the top level, Right mouse click on the Folders menu option. You will be given the option of creating a folder or in creating rules for incoming mail. You can create rules based on who has sent it, the sender’s address, the To and CC lines, the message subject line and whether the message has attachments. Quite a bit of control here. You can move the message to a new location, automatically delete the message, apply a category to the message, remove a category from the message, flag the message or forward it to another user/email.
Right mouse click on any folder and you can create a new subfolder, rename the folder, delete the folder, mark all mail as read, or empty the contents of the folder. Right mouse click on an email message you will first see that a check mark will appear in the box to the left of the message. You then have the ability to Reply, Reply All, Forward, Mark as Read/Unread, Delete, Mark as Junk, View the message source and also set up functions for the sender of the message.
If you want to do something to a group of messages click in the box to the left of the header message line for all the messages that you want to process and you will see at the top of the screen the ability mark the messages as junk, move them to a folder and to categorize the messages using categories that you can setup. The categories are Quick Views that you can see in bottom grouping on the image to the right. This allows you to quickly pull messages from multiple folders that have been categorized for these views.
To create a new message just click on the New hyperlink at the top of the screen. You will be taken to a dialog box that you see below:
As you move through the beta of this product you will see the inconsistencies of the screens. Microsoft is still in the middle of the transition between Hotmail, Live Spaces and this new Outlook.com site. It will be very nice once they have made the final programming ports to provide the same look and feel all the way through. This is a pretty nice start for now.