Microsoft has made it clear that they're ready to brush the Hotmail off their shoulders and get back to business with Outlook.com, a direct competitor for Google's Gmail service. We've had a bit of a hands-on look at the public preview they've released earlier today and found it to be nothing less than clean, refined, and surprisingly easy to use. What Microsoft has done between the release earlier today and the media blitz that's happened in the interim is to release their first advertisement video spot, complete with a few pointed cut-downs on Gmail with visual cues.
What you're going to see in this spot is a rather friendly, "Dear Email, why have our expectations become so low? It's time for something new." And with that, they're off to the races, having a peek at what's quite obviously a rendering of Gmail with the name "OldMail" attached to it. This chalk drawing is quickly analyzed and tossed out with comments such as:
• Creepy Ads
And replaced with a layout that, with sticky-notes, Microsoft is claiming will contain a list of great abilities and features.
• Smart & Powerful
• Clean UI
• Modern Devices
From here it does a lovely montage of these features with Skype video chat, some easy to use photo galleries, and nothing but lovely looks as its blue and white dominate the screen while photos and video are left to hang nicely in the stark gallery-like environment. This environment is, again, made to rather directly take on Gmail, and Microsoft isn't shying away from that idea either. You can jump right in with your own email address to sign up, use your Microsoft account to move around, and hook up with Twitter and Facebook while you're at it.
Windows Phone users will very soon be encouraged to use Outlook.com for their email needs while Microsoft finally makes a great effort to leave Gmail behind. Skydrive and Skype are already onboard here so you can connect with your Windows Phone easily, and we're going to go ahead and make a wild guess and say that there's a new Outlook email app on its way for all mobile devices, too. We shall see!