Microsoft previews Hotmail successor,

Redmond is rolling out a preview of a new e-mail service that combines elements of Exchange and Hotmail into a Metro-influenced client.

Back in June, there were leaks about an alleged new Microsoft mail client -- "Newmail" -- something described as a Metro-style Hotmail."


Today, Microsoft took the wraps off a preview version of that new client, which it is formally christening "" (The screen shot above is an example of what the new interface looks like.)

Microsoft is billing as a new free mail service that pulls features from Hotmail and Exchange. It is designed for personal/consumer use; Microsoft continues to position Outlook as its business e-mail client. is integrated with Windows and Office, and can pull in Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and LinkedIn contacts. The new mail client has the Metro look and feel. And it is providing users with more granular control over which ads they see and where they see them.

In some countries, @Hotmail e-mail addresses are not pariahs. But in others, they're considered as unhip as @aol addresses. While Microsoft is not currently requiring Hotmail users to move to, the longer-term plan is to convince them to move to There's no word on when (or definitively if) Microsoft will pull the plug on, but I'd guess there is a date on someone's calendar at Microsoft as to when this will happen.

Those who've been following the increasingly regular feature updates that the Hotmail team has added to the service will be familiar with's features. The ability to view previews of attached photos; to "sweep" unwanted messages in bulk; to weed out "gray" (junk) mail more easily; and to access Microsoft's Office Web Apps (the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) from inside mail are all part of (I'm not really sure which unique Exchange features are part of Anyone?)


Microsoft is providing new users with 7GB of free cloud storage through SkyDrive. (If you already have a SkyDrive account, I don't believe you get an extra 7GB added to your total available storage if you sign up for, however.) As it has been doing with Hotmail, Microsoft is trying to wean users from sending attachments. Instead, the focus is on saving files, photos and other content to the cloud, with "smart layouts" in e-mail messages showing recipients what they can see via links and/or downloads.

On Windows devices, including Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs, users will have the option of choosing which mail client they want to use (when they click on the Mail app). One of the permitted choices will be And on other mobile devices and phones -- not just Windows Phones, but any phone that supports Exchange ActiveSync -- will be a supported mail option, as well.

For those wondering about Skype integration, especially given this week's news regarding Google replacing Gmail video chat with Google+ Hangouts, Microsoft is dangling the promise of, at some point in the future, being able to launch Skype video calls from inside in-boxes without having to use the Skype app. (It sounds like the ability to use plus video calling from the Web will be another option here.)

Microsoft is not commenting on when it expects will advance beyond the test stage. As of today, it is available in preview form. Those who already have and/or email addresses that they want to move to can click "Upgrade to" in the options menu. Those who do not have existing Microsoft consumer mail accounts with those addresses can sign up for a new e-mail address via

Update: As my ZDNet colleague Matthew Miller notes, there is a warning from Microsoft not to rename your existing @hotmail or @live e-mails to @outlook ones on Windows Phones. It's fine to create a new address for your phone, but Microsoft is advising against renaming because current Xbox Live, Skydrive, Marketplace and other settings are tied to the old addresses.

This story was first posted as "Microsoft introduces, Hotmail's planned successor" on ZDNet's All About Microsoft blog.

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