The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, IMAP access is not part of the mix, and Outlook.com could offer more help with composing in addition to organizing mail.
- Outlook.com offers a rich and functional email experience on the web (and desktop or mobile access using POP and Exchange ActiveSync)
- Flexible categories help organize mail, filters clean it up
- You can set up POP email accounts for sending and receiving in Outlook.com
- Outlook.com lacks IMAP access
- You cannot set up blocks of text or message templates for re-use in Outlook.com
- Outlook.com does not include saved searches
- Outlook.com is a free email service with practically unlimited online storage.
- POP access is available in most email programs; Exchange ActiveSync offers richer access to mail and folders in Outlook, Windows Live Mail and many a mobile email program.
- You can have Outlook.com forward all incoming mail to another email address.
- Support for rich text editing, drag-and-drop and keyboard shortcuts aplenty makes Outlook.com on the web an experience resembling that with a desktop email program.
- Integrating with SkyDrive, Outlook.com lets you send files up to 300 MB in size and share photos via SkyDrive albums (right from the email you compose).
- In addition to filing messages in folders and flagging them, you can apply free-form categories for organization. Outlook.com also comes with a number of categories (including "Newsletters", "Social updates" and "Family") already set up and automatically applied to matching emails.
- "Quick views" offer fast access to certain emails including those containing images or documents, flagged mail and shipment updates; "Quick views" are available for categories as well.
- A simple search field finds relevant emails fast in Outlook.com while various search parameters (including sender, recipient, subject, folder and date) let you narrow results more precisely.
- Outlook.com includes a spam filter whose actions you can correct (and improve for the future) easily. Virus and phishing emails are detected as well.
- Other filters file, delete, flag and forward mail; special rules can help you maintain a cleaner inbox by acting on messages by age, for example, or number (say, of newsletter issues).
- You can set up alternate email addresses for sending (including up to 15 aliases for your Outlook.com address). Outlook.com collects mail from your other POP email accounts if you wish.
- Integration with SkyDrive allows you to send files easily up to 25 MB each and 10 GB per message in total.
- Outlook.com can answer emails on your behalf using out-of-office auto-replies.
- Connecting with Facebook lets you chat with friends from both Facebook and Windows Live right in Outlook.com. Outlook.com can keep a record of these instant messaging conversations.
- Outlook.com also can pick up updates, Tweets, pictures and full names from services including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.