Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced today that it is converting its long-time Hotmail web email to another long-time Microsoft brand: Outlook. The new brand, outlook.com, will tie the company’s industry-leading office Microsoft Office software suite and its Outlook professional mail program. The newly named program will still be free.
The intent of the change appears to be to bring a heavier gun to bear on Google Mail, the free web-based mail program from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and similar email services from both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO). Microsoft acquired Hotmail, the first web email application, in 1998 for about $400 million, and the service has about 350 million active users today.
As Microsoft moves more toward the modern cloud-based model with the coming release of its Windows 8 operating system, the company will offer its Office suite of products under another new name — Office 365 — which will be available for a subscription fee in an online version. A full version of the Outlook mail program is expected to be part of Office 365.
The new outlook.com mail program is available in a preview edition today.