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FAQ: Trying Microsoft's new Outlook.com

How to get a new Outlook.com email address, where to go for help, what devices and apps you can sync to the service

August 1, 2012 06:39 AM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft on Tuesday rebooted Hotmail as Outlook.com, serving notice that the former is headed toward retirement and that the latter is the new face of the company's 15-year-old online email effort.

Analysts might have shrugged at the move, but users didn't: By the end of Tuesday, Microsoft boasted that 1 million people had signed up for the new service.

Was it because of the integration with SkyDrive and Office Web apps? The new UI? Or just curiosity?

Who knows. But what we do know is that there are lots of questions about Outlook.com. Here are the answers to some of the most pressing.

I use Hotmail now. What happens to my email? The next time you open Hotmail, you may see the new interface.

If you don't, you can switch by choosing "Upgrade to Outlook.com" from the Options menu in the upper right corner when you're at your inbox.

How do I get one of the new Outlook.com addresses? For a brand new account, go to Outlook.com. (You may need to log out if you've already used the new site, then return to Outlook.com.) Start the process by clicking the "Sign up" button on the left. Fill in the form, which includes a field for your new xxxxx@outlook.com address, complete the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") and click the "I accept" button at the bottom.

What does it look like? Very Metro. The user interface (UI) has the same flattened, color-subdued look as a Metro app in Windows 8. By comparison, the traditional Hotmail UI looks like a carnival -- busy, garish, loud, cheap.

Obviously, Outlook.com's UI will mesh well with Windows 8. Depending on your opinion of that UI, however, it may seem jarring on older or non-Microsoft OSes, including Windows 7 and OS X.

Can I keep my old address and still use Outlook.com? Yes, you can.

You can keep Microsoft-related addresses ending with hotmail.com, msn.com and live.com while switching to the new UI.

I want to ditch my Hotmail.com address. How do I do that? Start at Outlook.com. If you're not automatically pushed to the new UI, switch by choosing "Upgrade to Outlook" from the Inbox's Options menu -- and select "More mail settings" from the gear icon's menu. Click on "Rename your email address."

Enter your existing Hotmail.com address -- the portion to the left of the @ character -- and click Save while "outlook.com" is visible in the drop-down list. If the address is already taken, you'll see a message to that effect.

Does Outlook.com show me ads? Yes, it does. Text-based ads, to be specific.



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