The digital heavyweight battle between the two giants, Microsoft and Google, has just spilled into the email ring with a brand new shift — pardon the pun. Plans have been made to transition the webmail platform, Hotmail, to a new more grown up Outlook.com. With this being said, the effects on marketing, both from and through these giants, should be interesting.
It really began when Microsoft launched a veritable ad-tack against Google with their Scroogled ad campaign. Microsoft used the hot-button theme of privacy as the lead-in for leaving Gmail and moving to a new platform: Outlook.com. Please note the irony in Microsoft using similar messaging that Google used to get people to stop using Facebook and move to Google+.
Interface… They put it interface, right?
Let's admit it; as much as we use and have used Gmail, we've never touted them for having the best looking user interface. It has been described as cluttered, unintuitive, and confusing. Function still remains and people have been drawn to it ever since they debuted with more storage space than anyone else on the block.
Outlook.com's interface is super clean — a hot trend in design today. All aspects of your inbox, messages, etc. are clearly laid out and easy to view and use. Even the ads, which are smaller on Outlook.com than Gmail, are both set aside away from your email content and clear enough for your review.
The power of integration
Outlook.com's greatest strength comes in its integration. Not only does it integrate with Microsoft's office suite, it also integrates with social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, yes, even Google+. This positions Microsoft as a company that "gets it" and could place doubt in the minds of those making a choice between Outlook.com and Gmail.
Rendering a decision
One thing has seemingly not changed. It appears as if Outlook.com, just like Hotmail, uses Microsoft Word as its rendering engine for email. This has been something that has confounded us here at Blue Fountain Media as well as email marketers worldwide. This rending method, and even some rendering issues with Gmail (they're better, but not perfect), stop us from moving forward with wonderful possibilities such as full-on responsive design in email, which would create a finer user experience for our customers and ourselves.
However, because Outlook.com seems to render email in the same manner as Outlook's desktop software, we can keep our same best practices in mind when it comes to development and continue to code within the constraints of those practices. Our email designs will remain intact and we can work towards matching beautiful UI with beautiful UX.
The final decision is up to you. Will you continue to use Gmail? Will you move to Outlook.com? Will you use both? You can control your outlook - go ahead and do it. Let us know what you think of the new Outlook in the comments below or by tweeting @BFMweb.