Friday, August 31, 2012

Outlook upon upcoming webmail service outlook.com


    Few days ago I received a mail from my brother, lucky you for you got a email id on your name akshatha@outlook.com.  So what? rather than getting excited I wrote him back, yet another email account, how do I manage and why will I need it.Anyways thank you bro for signing up for a nice account for me.

    Couple of days before I read a status update from my friend reading xxx@outlook.com on FB wall, I did not understand and did not bother to question back.

    Ok, then came the time when I really had to research on what is this all about, might be I was poor in keeping myself updated with what's latest, however I do read newspaper time to time.

    It was then when I stumbled on the article  "Outlook will turn heat on Google: Bhatia " in our daily newspaper.  Subsequently my questions in mind regarding significance of outlook.com email id and my FB update from friend started getting clear.

    What next? Time to explore.

    Personally when I used to work in a software firm, I had loved using the email client outlook and had always wondered if I could configure the same for my personal id and use it.  Now being a house wife at home, I did configure the same in my free time and was very very happy accessing my emails through the web client. Helped me to stay organized.

    Also I had wondered and wished  in the past if there could be one central inbox where I could check all my email accounts without having several browsers open and without several sign ins , all at one place and one sign in….

    With the technology is blooming up, what I wondered in the past really happened…oops yes outlook.com one such webmail service catered my needs.  At the outset when I looked at it, it really  looked like another giant service like google+, and I thought ok, now I will not use it for more than one attempt, but I was wrong rather I was happy, as I started using it I was very happy to realize that the focus on "email service" was not lost here.

    When Google + boom came in I too was excited to be on Google+, however due to widespread range of services like email, photo integrations, social status updates, video chat very specific to Google accounts, I  got weary over a period of time. Also when I thought I strictly needed to have my friends as well have an account on the same domain to share any pics, updates easily, it started disinteresting me and did not fetch me much value. Consequently I scarcely log into my G+ account.

    However outlook.com did not disappoint me much. Has it's own pros and cons, and if the cons are fixed, then it will for sure rule the webmail service…. 

    The main feature that fancies any person who is very much into emailing is it's integration with Facebook like I read in times
    "Google has Google+, Google Hangout, etc. But it has to do something with its interface.
     It doesn't have an interface that, say, integrates with Facebook.  
     This brings a huge power in easing the communication pace!!


    Now my observations so far:

    Pros and Cons:

  1. Central tool for Web communication: All in one place ie, email + chat + read, write share/store documents
  2. Messages aligned in one page easy to scroll through the prior communications
  3. Central inbox for various email accounts: Can configure more than one email accounts(which are POP enabled-You can add up to four POP3 accounts to your outlook account) to be viewed at one place.
  4.  With my experience I was able to configure couple of my gmail accounts into this but failed with yahoo and it demanded me to have a paid yahoo account that is normal yahoo account could not be integrated one needed to ensure that you have a paid Yahoo! Mail Plus account. You can only add Yahoo! Mail Plus as a POP3 account to your Outlook account if you have a paid Yahoo! Mail Plus account.

    P.S I was really wondering after reading this how many such paid email account users would be available when there are so many free email web servers available....I really think and curious to explore now on what Yahoo plus brings with a paid email account :)

    On the cons side of this feature I got little disappointed when I figured out that

    1.  the sync of other email ie the refresh happens every 30 minutes , and in this fasting moving world,if any email is going be to be delivered to your inbox with a delay of 30 mins rather than instant diwnload to your inbox, it might be crucial for any business needs/matters
    2. And as far as I have used refreshes only when you are logged in else not
    3. In case you have a offline outlook client on your desktop or laptop and if you have configured personal email accounts , then the sync is not consistent, ie for me my mails started getting downloaded onto the outlook that was on the web and the sync at my desktop outlook became inconsistent although it was connecting well with the email server. I am not sure if outlook could support multiple client configurations for a single account

  5. Another featured that fancied me a lot - Facebook integration ie
    1.  once you import the contacts to outlook from Facebook, you could receive their updates just on the side bar ..ie when you receive a email from your buddy, while you are reading the email, on the side bar you could just view what's his status update.
    Sometimes with Facebook window open on my PC, when I normally scroll to the tab to view status updates from friends I get distracted a lot with other videos/articles shared by other friends may not that important to read at that time…and so many times this distraction has eaten up my time delaying my subsequent activities…however here your focus is very much on email and as a add on you get to read just the status update from just one friend at a time…no scope for distraction..nice nice from my view…

    1. However with the Chat feature (need to click on the smiley at the top) I see a Cons: You do have option to chat with FB friends from within outlook in your free time, but you need a explicit click within the message box to see who all are available (this is good to keep away distractions for people like me, however for some it might be really nice to see the list of available members on the go and get started with a chat with a rare friend who is noticed online)

  6. Next, gone are the days when you really had to ask and maintain a list of contacts - Contacts integrations is awesome as well ie When u move to people tab, you could write on their wall or write personalized email message and so on just on a click at the respective contact infos.
  7.  There was a time when I used to open my FB account look up for my friend's wall, check for the email info and then copy paste into my address and email…but now no worries, you are within outlook, you have imported contacts from various email/social networking account you..just type in their and you see a magic, the email Id appears…so convenient!!
    Click on the needed mode of communicating that is messaging or emailing and get going swiftly with you texts.

  8. Not very special or great thought another feature you have is the Automatic reminder mails about the friend's birthday maintained in the calendar or FB accounts, you do need any special app for maintaining any birthday calendar…if the info is maintained in social networking profiles, then you get reminded about the same directly at your inbox. 
  9. Yet another feature that grabbed my attention: Quick view option is really good, you could easily search for docs + photos, ie  mails are categorized and organized at one location based on the documents+ photos they carry with them, eases your search…ie the effort to search for any specific doc is really less and no worries if you forgot the doc name, we could simply browse them under quick view docs/pics category 

  10. Central searches across mail folders: Sometimes I forget or get confused to which email account was a particular matter mailed to me, not to worry anymore if you have your email accounts integrated centrally with outlook then just type in for search once and all your emails in various outlook email accounts would  searched and fetched quickly
  11. Calendar is great: holidays + birthdays easily visible marked in various colours, with cake icons for birthdays and weather information on the live days


  12.  however the cons I see here is the display page looks something out of application as it carries a different theme :(…at first look this might be ugly, but once the value of it is know, your mind is ready to accept the same and I found it  little difficult to get back to my inbox from the new window.

    After a while I found that one needs to click on the hotmail button in top to get into the inbox, Also clicking on People or Calendar tab takes you to different tabs…and too many tabs for the same might be confusing/annoying at times

      
    Experience on the go now :), Just when I switched back to my outlook box I noticed 2 notification for a chat message from friend..nice but I missed to respond back as I was busy typing this post…now pro here saved me from my distraction, without any sound notification

    Cons however if was not busy with some important task then notification with sound is good as well, I could have a got a break writing this post, had a chat and resumed back…Sure every service comes with it's own pros and cons, however I have just tried to record my outlook over outlook.com webmail service…

    Skype needs to be integrated yet, however others like twitter, linkedin are already available. There are many more valuable feature like storage on the web Skydrive, where you could store, edit and share some docs on the go..I am yet to explore them and should be able to add in more details here when I use them.

    Might be a lengthy post but I hope it helps the novice outlook.com users

    To conclude I would say although outlook.com comes with such varied nice to see features I am happy to use it only if my other email accounts sync quickly and not refresh only every 30 mins.

    P.S Mentioned above are just my viewpoints on outlook, I am neither a fan follower of outlook nor a antagonist of google,  both have their own + and -,
    With outlook I am happy with email features and when it comes to google I am just stunned with their 3 wonderful creations the Giant Search,Blogger and Android…therefore G+ lovers not to get offended with my sad experience with Google+

    After all I did seek the help of google to publish this blog post :)

    Acknowledgements:

  13. Firstly thanks to my brother for the account akshatha@outlook.com  (readers feel free to share with me their experience and any fixed features/solutions to problems here I am not aware of)
  14. My husband for facilitating me with such a working/learning environment at home
  15. Div sir for suggesting me to add some tech posts to my blog
  16. Hats off to the developers behind the development of outlook.com

  17. Cheers,
    Akshatha
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