updated 04:23 pm EDT, Tue July 31, 2012
New look sports Metro influence
Microsoft has rolled out a preview version of its new email service. Dubbed Outlook.com, the service will eventually replace Hotmail, which Microsoft acquired in 1997 for $400 million. The redesigned mail interface sports a minimalist aesthetic that is somewhat reminiscent of Windows 8's Metro interface and is intended to improve legibility.
The new interface is scalable across multiple form factors, displaying about the same from smartphone to tablet to desktop. It provides a great deal of negative space between lines of text to improve reading ease. Along the right side, the new layout includes text ads that are largely understated, with colorful numbers displaying discount amounts.
The bar along the top provides links to carry out the most common email functions: new message, reply, delete, and so forth. It also integrates Microsoft's chat feature, which also allows users to contact their Facebook friends.
The new look is aimed at improving Microsoft's mail standing, as the company has been overshadowed by the success of Google's Gmail. The new look will also serve to solidify the design language now common across many Microsoft offerings, including Office 15, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.
The new look isn't yet available for all users. Some users will be greeted with the new layout upon logging in. Others, though, will likely receive the option to switch to the new look in the near future.