What we liked: In our past comparisons of webmail services, Gmail was our clear favourite, but that was before Hotmail was reborn
What we liked: In our past comparisons of webmail services, Gmail was our clear favourite, but that was before Hotmail was reborn as Outlook (outlook.com) in July. Its new features make it stand out from its rivals, so much so that we had no problem giving it the Gold Award. Each of the services we tested let you create filters to sort messages, but Yahoo’s are hidden away and Gmail’s are needlessly complicated. Outlook does it all within your inbox, using customisable Instant Actions, and offers Sweep and Schedule Clean Up tools that drastically reduce spam.
Whereas many services only connect with Facebook, and Gmail restricts you to Google+, Outlook integrates with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and more. You can get social updates within emails, and you can post directly from your inbox and chat to friends without leaving Outlook.
Its clearly labelled menus make Outlook the easiest service to use. You don’t have to guess what an icon means, as you do in Gmail, or hunt for an option, like in Yahoo. We prefer ‘New’ to Gmail’s ‘Compose’ and ‘Deleted’ to ‘Trash’, for example, and we love the ‘Frequent contacts’ list; all simple but effective little touches.
Outlook offers unlimited storage, and although it has smaller attachment limits (25MB) than many of its rivals, you can send an additional 300MB using SkyDrive, the service’s built-in, 7GB file manager and office suite.
The free Outlook mobile app is still called Hotmail and is available on iOS, Windows Phone and Android. You can also use the service on the move using its excellent mobile version.
How can it be improved?
Outlook doesn’t have as many customisation options as its rivals, and its many features can sometimes make pages slow to load.
Our verdict ★★★★★
Since Hotmail became Outlook, we think Microsoft’s webmail service is the best it’s ever been. It addresses concerns about security and spam, and is wonderfully easy to use.
EASE OF USE ★★★★★ FEATURES ★★★★★
STORAGE ★★★★★ MOBILE ★★★★★