Microsoft has announced Outlook.com, a massive overhaul of its Hotmail e-mail service with a visual redesign, free online Office apps and social network links.
It's a move intended to allow the company to hold its first-place position in free e-mail while pushing the domain as a consumer destination, one analyst said.
"They're trying to harmonize the value of Hotmail and the [Windows 8] Metro design language with the services they already provide," Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, told Computerworld. "They want to make Hotmail become more of a destination, a place where users spend more time."
Outlook.com will provide each user with a free allotment of 7 gigabytes on Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage, will open Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents with the online apps, and will tie in with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Microsoft had employed the Hotmail brand since 1997 when it purchased the service for an estimated $400 million, but the brand is old, Miller said.
"Hotmail feels dated; it looks like a Honda from the 1990s," he said.
While Hotmail and Outlook.com would run side-by-side for an indefinite period, eventually the former will be discontinued, Microsoft said.
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