Outlook switch leaves Hotmail users open to cyber-squatting

31 Jul 2012

Microsoft unveils Outlook.com email, but doesn't bring old users to the new system

Microsoft has unveiled plans to rebrand Hotmail to Outlook, but has failed to reserve existing users' email aliases.

The surprise switch is the latest attempt by Microsoft to rebrand Hotmail, which was previously available under the Windows Live moniker.

Hotmail - or Windows Live - users can try the new version of Outlook.com, and claim an Outlook alias. However, Microsoft has failed to reserve existing users' logins on the new system, leaving Hotmail users at risk of losing their sign in on the new domain.

For example, if you had name@hotmail.com, you won't be guaranteed the name@outlook.com address, if someone else chooses it first. That could be problematic as Microsoft is reportedly ditching Hotmail and Windows Live entirely, in favour of the new Outlook.com domain, according to a report in ZDNet.

PC Pro staff even managed to register an Outlook.com alias in the name of Steve Ballmer.

Steve Ballmer registered on Outlook.com

Outlook.com features the Metro-style design from Windows 8, with blocks for folders that change colour when a mouse cursor hovers over them - clearly designed to make it easier to select folders using a tablet or other touchscreen device.

Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Windows Live Experience Program Management, said in a blog post that the Outlook.com email was created because "not much has fundamentally changed in webmail over the last eight years".

He said Outlook can pull in status updates, photos and contact lists from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and will offer video calls via Skype, acknowledging that more and more messaging is moving away from inboxes to social networks.

While the new system is still a preview, Jones said "Outlook.com is ready now to become your primary email service".

You can try out the Outlook.com email here - there's a button under settings that lets you switch back to Hotmail if you don't like the new look.

Update: Microsoft has explained more details about Outlook.com, revealing in an email to PC Pro that all Hotmail users will be forced to upgrade to the new system, but will be able to bring their Hotmail email address with them. "Anyone that upgrades from Hotmail to Outlook and wants to retain their email address can keep their email address, email, calendar, contacts, etc. - just the software experience will change (for the better)," Microsoft said.

It wasn't clear when the move would happen, merely saying that it would happen "after the preview period".

Microsoft denied claims it was ditching Hotmail because Gmail had surpassed it in number of users. "We’re not abandoning Hotmail, we’re starting a new service and we think this new service is better."

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