Outlook.com Review: Microsoft turns mail into mini-Facebook

I wasn't kidding when I said the new Outlook service was a lot like the basic Facebook service.

Now that I've had a day to dig into Outlook.com, Microsoft's updated email service that will retire and replace both Hotmail and Live Mail, it seems my initial assessment that Outlook.com will be similar to the basic Facebook service is more accurate than even I imagined.

Outlook.com basically copies the same People contact features from Windows Phone 7.5, Windows 8 and Outlook 2013. Like Windows Phone 7.5, the integration with Facebook and LinkedIn puts hundreds of contacts at your immediate reach.

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It connected me to both Facebook and LinkedIn without requiring my login information. My verified account on Outlook's end was enough. I have to wonder, though, is this enough? Suppose someone was clever enough to register with Outlook.com as me, and then connected to LinkedIn and Facebook. They would have access to all of my contacts, because neither Facebook nor LinkedIn asked for my login address or password. Something to consider, and ask about in the future.

Anyway, Outlook.com’s People experience is a familiar one for those using recent Microsoft products. All of your contacts, if they are online, will appear in Live Messenger, and you can send them emails through their social networks or e-mail addresses.

Microsoft refers to this sort of contacts solution as a “universal address book,” since it aggregates all of your contacts into a single contact entry, or card. From this one location, you can email, send a Facebook message, write on friends’ Facebook walls, send a Tweet, update LinkedIn, and so on.

The old MSN Messenger now also works with Facebook, so you can IM friends on two different networks. Oulook.com has the usual features: favorites, groups, and messenger support for different networks. You can filter your group by a variety of methods, like family or business.

Microsoft expects to add more, like Skype services directly into Outlook.com and a Twitter client. So you have mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, messaging, Skype and Twitter all in one web client accessible from any browser, and it will be replicated in the Office 2013 mail client.

All in all, well played. But I have to ask one thing: where's the Bing integration?

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.