MICROSOFT HAS UPGRADED its webmail service Outlook.com, rolling out a number of features squarely aimed at matching Gmail.
The service formerly known as Hotmail has been on an aggressive user recruitment drive and these features come on top of its recent addition of a wholesale import service to migrate Gmail accounts, lock stock and barrel.
The flagship feature is Advanced Rules, a decision maker comparable to a feature already in the Windows desktop version of Outlook.
An example rule on the Microsoft blog read, "If an unread email is older than [three] days and is from one of your contacts, mark it as important and flag it."
Also new is an undo command for those moments where an overzealous mouse click might otherwise cost you valuable minutes, or worse.
Finally, an in-line reply feature has been added to allow users to respond to emails without opening a new window.
Following the introduction of Skype and Facebook Messenger at Outlook.com, a recent chat list has been added for ease of use, plus users are now able to migrate chat sessions from Skype to Messenger at will.
None of these ideas is revolutionary, but Mike Schackwitz of Outlook.com described the filter system as "the most sophisticated rules in webmail".
It does show, however, that after ignoring Hotmail in recent years, Microsoft is taking its new incarnation seriously as it tries to compete against its newer rivals.
Don't think that Google won't respond, though. As we reported earlier this week, an overhaul of Gmail is already in the testing stage. µ