Trying to choose between Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com? These two Web-based email services have some significant differences to consider.
In large part, it comes down to context — and you might be surprised by the factors that influence your choice.
Like many folks who spend hours on their computers, I have more than a few free, Web-based email accounts. Some I’ve used as samples when writing articles; others help me keep different projects organized and outside my general workflow.
I’ve had Hotmail accounts, MSN accounts, Gmail accounts, and MS Live accounts. When I was testing Office 365, I had several @onmicrosoft.com accounts (a domain name that made no sense to me). Recently, I began working with a nonprofit organization that uses Gmail for all its email needs.
I also use Outlook 2010 on my desktop computer, Outlook 2013 on my Windows 8 tablet, and Web-based Yahoo Mail on my Windows 7 netbook. Recently, it occurred to me that this schizophrenic use of email apps and services is probably complicating my life — or at least making email more difficult to manage. That raised the question: If I wanted to consolidate all my email tools into one I’d use everywhere, which tool would it be? I decided to compare the two biggest players in online email — Gmail and Outlook.com — and see how they line up.
Design: Working with what feels most comfortable
If you’re used to working with the client version of Outlook, Outlook Express, or some other local email app, both Gmail and Outlook.com appear to have rather spare interfaces. They’ve been stripped down to the basics necessary to work well on various browsers. Adjusting to their simplified UI can take some time.
Outlook.com: In a recent makeover, Microsoft gave Outlook.com a sparse, open design that brings the email service in line with SkyDrive and Office Web Apps. You’ll notice an easy-to-navigate menu bar across the top when you click a message you want to read or manage. When you click the arrow to the right of the Outlook label (top-left corner of the screen), tiles appear — offering a quick jump into related apps: People, Calendar, and SkyDrive.