Microsoft took the wraps off Outlook.com today, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. It’s a massive improvement over Hotmail in many ways, not the least of which is how well it’s suited to smaller screens.
As you’d expect from anything Microsoft has designed recently, the Metro design language has been liberally applied to the Outlook.com experience. Like Windows Phone and Windows 8 Metro apps, there’s not a lot of extraneous adornment to clutter things up. It’s the now-familiar blend of blocks of color with crisp, clear text labels and the occasional monochrome icon.
The header toolbar covers 60% fewer vertical pixels than its Hotmail counterpart, and that extra real estate means there’s enough room to squeeze in almost a third more messages. And just like desktop versions of Outlook can, Outlook.com lets you position the preview pane below your inbox or to the right — letting you more fully utilize the extra horizontal space afforded by widescreen displays, which are nearly ubiquitous at this point.
There’s also plenty of padding around clickable elements, making the interface easy to use whether you’re using a mouse, a cramped netbook touchpad, or a touchscreen device.
Outlook.com isn’t just about email, of course. Updates from the folks you follow on social networks will appear in your inbox, too, if you’ve got any linked accounts set up. Instant messaging via Facebook and MSN is supported, and you can also participate in video calls thanks to Skype integration. While none of necessarily frees up any screen space, it can save you disk space — by allowing you to skip installing the desktop Skype client and a standalone IM app.
So far, Outlook.com seems like a perfect fit on the smaller devices you read about here on Liliputing, but what’s your first impression been? How do you think it stacks up to Gmail on your favorite devices? Is it good enough to make you switch? Head to the comments and let us know!