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PHNO SCIENCE & INFOTECH NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
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PHNO IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ITS MICROSOFT OUTLOOK CLIENT INBOX. WE THOUGHT PROBABLY THE UNIVERSAL OUTLOOK UPGRADE ATTEMPTING TO SYNCH WITH ALL MOBILE SMARTPHONES IS WHAT'S HAPPENING. WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR MIGRATION OF EMAIL CLIENTS SO WE TRY TO BE PATIENT AND LIVE AMID THE CONFUSION. THE CONSTANT CHANGESTHE PAST 3 YEARS IN OUR BELL CANADA EMAIL, MICROSOFT HOTMAIL, G-MAIL AND YAHOO MAIL HAVE BEEN NOTHING BUT CONTINUOUS AGGRAVATION AND CONFUSION SOMETIMES EVEN TOTAL CHAOS AND LOST OF FOLDERS AND MOST OF ALL SCREWING UP OF CONTACTS LIST......SO WE VISITED CYBERSPACE THIS WEEK AND FOUND THERE IS THIS WAR GOING ON.....

WEBMAIL SHOWDOWN! GMAIL VS. OUTLOOK.COM


AS OF APRIL 2016 -SUNDAY SHOWDOWN - It’s hard to think about email without putting a G in front of it. Despite Gmail’s renown as one of the best email services on the internet, Microsoft’s Outlook.com has spent the last few years building itself into a competent competitor. In today’s showdown, we put these two behemoths of email to the test.The Contenders There are a ton of email services, but a few have risen to the top. After Outlook.com absorbed Hotmail, Gmail and Outlook.com became the two biggest email services on the internet, together totaling over a billion users. Their approaches to managing your email are similar, but there are some pretty distinct differences in features. READ MORE...

ALSO: Outlook Is a Completely New, Feature-Filled Webmail Service from Microsoft


Microsoft has launched a completely new email service called Outlook, which brings a simplified, Metro-inspired interface and lots of useful features to your inbox.We've always thought Hotmail was an okay email service, and certainly the best alternative to Gmail. but Microsoft steps its game up to a whole new level with Outlook. How Does the New Hotmail Stack Up to Gmail? This may come as a surprise, but the new Microsoft Hotmail is actually pretty good. But how does it …The interface is clean and simple, focusing on the email in your inbox. The sidebar and title bars are slim and clutter-free, and even the ads are grey and unobtrusive. Opening an email brings up a very Gmail-like conversation view, you can quickly create labels for any type of message, search using a number of different filters and operators, and navigate the interface with a host of keyboard shortcuts. If you don't like the default shortcuts, you can easily switch them to a Gmail- or Yahoo-like system, so you don't have to retrain your muscle memory either. READ MORE...

ALSO: VERIZON REPORTEDLY WANTS A $1 BILLION DISCOUNT ON THE YAHOO DEAL


OCTOBER 2016 -GETTY IMAGES
Remember that Yahoo hack that compromised half a billion email accounts? Verizon does, too. And according to the New York Post, Big Red wants a billion-dollar discount on its $4.8 billion takeover offer for the lack of disclosure and general headache that comes with one of the biggest breaches in history. And that’s just one Yahoo story this week! In the other, a Reuters report revealed that Yahoo had given law enforcement access to its email servers, allowing the NSA or FBI to scrape the emails of its users looking for a specific string of characters. The controversial acquiescence reinforced that encryption can create its own unique set of tensions. Though not for Facebook, apparently; the company flipped the switch on end-to-end encryption for Messenger this week, and that is something you should definitely use. Elsewhere it was a week of leaks and hacks, hacks and leaks. A group called OurMind hacked Buzzfeed over an exposé of its members (or member, as it turns out). A purported hack of the Clinton Foundation turned out to be bogus, though it still fulfilled its likely goal of sowing disinformation. A security contractor not named Snowden has been charged with sneaking top-secret documents out of the NSA. And in another case of déjà vu, the feds want to crack another dead terrorist’s locked iPhone. Meanwhile, online porn’s about to get safer, Trump continues to say worrying things about “the cyber,” Silk Road proprietor Ross Ublricht might end up with less than a life sentence, and we made a plea for transparency in the clemency system. And there’s more: Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth but still deserve your attention. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted. And stay safe out there. Verizon Wants a Major Discount on Its Deal to Buy Yahoo READ MORE...

ALSO: Email Showdown: Gmail vs. Yahoo! vs. Outlook vs. the Field


NOVEMBER 2013 -The reports of the death of email have been greatly exaggerated. Ever since the start of the Facebook revolution, experts have been busily predicting the demise of everyone’s favorite method of communication. After all, why would anyone need an email account if they could communicate simply through Tweets and Facebook posts? Alas, both Twitter and Facebook have blown the opportunity to position themselves as the successors of email through the creation of less-than-capable platforms: one limits you to 140 characters, the other makes you pay to talk to people who aren’t on your list of close pals. READ MORE ALSO THE VERDICT...


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Webmail Showdown: Gmail vs. Outlook.com

CYBERSPACE, NOVEMBER 28, 2016 (LIFEHACKERONLINE) Eric Ravenscraft 4/17/16 8:00amFiled to: SUNDAY SHOWDOWN - It’s hard to think about email without putting a G in front of it. Despite Gmail’s renown as one of the best email services on the internet, Microsoft’s Outlook.com has spent the last few years building itself into a competent competitor. In today’s showdown, we put these two behemoths of email to the test.

The Contenders

There are a ton of email services, but a few have risen to the top. After Outlook.com absorbed Hotmail, Gmail and Outlook.com became the two biggest email services on the internet, together totaling over a billion users. Their approaches to managing your email are similar, but there are some pretty distinct differences in features.

READ MORE...

Gmail: Google’s been leading the game in free online email since an April Fools prank in 2004 turned out to be real. With robust filters, labels, and 15GB of space to share between various Google services, Gmail successfully made us rethink how email works. As of May 2015, Gmail had over 900M active users.

Outlook.com: In 2012, Microsoft launched a new web-based version of its Outlook email client. Later, Microsoft migrated all Hotmail users to Outlook.com. The fledgling service has a ton of unique features including Clutter, email rules, and integration with Outlook calendar.

Microsoft says that Outlook users are limited to 5GB of space but “this slowly adjusts or increases according to your needs.” Now the service boasts over 400 million active users. Note: for simplicity’s sake, we’ll be calling this service Outlook throughout this article, though technically Outlook (without the .com) is the desktop app. Yes, Microsoft’s names are confusing.

For our comparison, we’ll be looking at the apps themselves, and not necessarily the underlying service underneath. Technically, you can import Gmail messages into Outlook and vice versa, but what we’re interested in is how these services actually work in practice.

Gmail Set the Organization Standard, But Outlook Has Caught Up



We’ve covered how powerful Gmail’s filters are and what you can do with them so extensively that we almost take them for granted.

In Gmail, you can automatically sort emails by sender, keywords in the subject line or body, attachments, and by size. You can then use those filters to automatically mark messages as read, apply labels, respond with a canned message, delete them, and more. On top of this, Gmail uses labels and stars instead of folders (although it has faux-folders, too.)

You can apply multiple labels to your messages, which gives you greater flexibility in setting up exactly the kind of organization scheme you like, and stars let you set aside the most important emails for later. You can even enable Smart Labels that Google can apply labels like Finance and Travel automatically.

Gmail also uses a priority inbox system to automatically find messages it believes are important to you. Emails are deemed “important” based on who you email, which messages you open, what you interact with and other criteria. You can also manually mark an email as important to help it learn.

Outlook’s approach to organization is a little more complicated.

For starters, the site uses folders as the primary method for organizing your messages.

By default, the left-hand pane shows a list of default folders, and you can create your own to organize your messages. You can pin emails so they remain at the top of a folder which is sort of but not exactly like Gmail’s stars.

Outlook also has a feature called Clutter that finds emails you probably don’t care about and moves them to a separate Clutter folder. This lets you focus on your important messages and clear out the junk in one sweep.

Outlook Is a Completely New, Feature-Filled Webmail Service from Microsoft

Microsoft has launched a completely new email service called Outlook, which brings a simplified Metro-inspired interface and lots of useful features to your inbox.

You can also add categories to your email, which function much like labels do. You can add categories and use those as criteria for rules (more on those in a second).

However, by default, Outlook doesn’t show you your categories in the navigation pane. To see any categories, you have to navigate to Options > Layout > Categories and manually pick which categories are shown. On the one hand, this makes it hard to clutter up your inbox unless you choose to—in contrast, Gmail shows all labels unless you specifically hide them—but on the other, it was a pain to even find the option.

Similarly, Outlook’s filter counterparts are called Rules (a term borrowed from the desktop version of Outlook). When you’re viewing an email, you can create a Rule to filter messages like it. Otherwise, Rules are once again buried in Outlook’s Options menu. They have many of the same options as Gmail’s filters, but they’re not quite as robust. For example, you can’t automatically send a canned response based on a filter. However, for most situations, Rules and filters are pretty comparable.

Outlook Has a Streamlined Interface, But Gmail Has Several Layouts to Choose From


I’m really excited about emailing myself.

Google famously likes to play around with Gmail’s interface, so you have a few different options to choose from. Most recently, Google introduced a tabbed inbox view that sorts your email into categories including Social for messages from social networking sites, Promotions for advertisement emails, and Updates for auto-generated emails like order confirmations or bills. For some, this was a godsend.

Others wanted to turn it off immediately. On top of that, Google’s also experimenting with Inbox, a third alternative interface for Gmail. Inbox treats your email more like a to-do list where you mark each message as “Done” rather than as “read.” You can snooze emails until later and bundle related messages together. Between Inbox, Gmail’s tabbed inbox, and the normal priority inbox interface, you have many options for choosing how to present your email.

How Google's Inbox Transformed the Way I Use Email



Read more

Gmail
also has a ton of tweaks hiding in the Labs section of its settings. Here you can enable a ton of useful tweaks like a dedicated Mark as Read button, a Preview pane so you can read emails without leaving your message list, and canned responses. While many of these features are awesome tweaks that not everyone may want, some are also basic features that you probably shouldn’t have to hunt down to enable in 2016.

Outlook, on the other hand, uses a basic three-panel design and sticks with it. On the left side, you can click on different folders and categories to navigate. In the middle panel, you’ll see a list of emails in that folder. Click an email and you’ll be able to read it in the third pane on the right. For anyone who’s used an email client that isn’t Gmail, it should look very familiar.

Outlook doesn’t have as many options for customizing its interface in major ways as Gmail, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can still tweak the basics like where your display pane shows up, or what order messages appear in a conversation with Outlook.

Finally, both Outlook and Gmail have ads, though they appear in very different ways. In Gmail, you’ll see a couple of ads that look like regular emails under the Promotions tab. You can avoid them by turning off the promotions tab, disabling the tabbed inbox altogether, or using Inbox. In Outlook, the ads are full banners on the side of the screen. The only way (aside from ad blockers) to disable them is to pay $20/year for Ad-free Outlook. The silver lining, though, is that Microsoft promises Outlook won’t scan your email to target ads.

Gmail Has New Ads That Look Like Emails, Here's How to Turn Them Off

READ MORE...

foGmail Has a Few Bonus Tricks, Outlook Has a Whole Store of Them



No email client is an island.

Google and Microsoft have a ton of other products built directly into their email client that make them pretty powerful. For simplicity, we’ll only include the services that you can use without actually having to leave your Gmail or Outlook tabs directly. However, each company has quick shortcuts to tons their other products, so part of your decision may be determined by which apps you use regularly every day.

In Gmail, Hangouts lives as a panel on the right side of the screen. Every chat you open will open along the bottom of your window. You can open minimize them while you’re checking your email and pop them open to reply to messages. You can also open a Tasks window that lives next to your open conversations so you can create a basic to-do list throughout the day. You can set due dates and provide descriptions for each task, but that’s about it. In the Labs section, you can enable a mini-calendar widget so you can see a very abbreviated view of your agenda for the day. That’s about all you can add to Gmail without downloading extensions to add services on top of Gmail.

In Outlook, you can use Skype for messaging just like Hangouts in Gmail. There’s also a Tasks section you can open from the shortcut menu in the top-left corner of Outlook. Unlike Gmail’s mini-Tasks widget, you can provide a ton more details for your tasks, including hours worked, set reminders for a task, and attach files from OneDrive to a task.

On top of this, Outlook has a bunch of add-ins that expand your inbox’s functionality. For example, you can open the Boomerang add-in to set a reminder to come back to an email after a few hours or days. You can open the Evernote add-in to save an email to one of your notebooks. There are over 100 more add-ins in the Office Store that can add new features to Outlook.

The Verdict: Gmail’s Friendly to Power Users, Outlook Is Awesome For Office Workers

In the past, Gmail was the de facto standard for how to manage your email online. While Microsoft has done well with Outlook on desktops, it’s only in recent years that its web email products have caught up. Now, it’s a toss up as to which one is better, but each has their strengths.

If you like endlessly tweaking or experimenting with your email setup, Gmail is for you. Google has not shied away from bold and controversial new designs that change how you use email. Sometimes those experiments work, sometimes they don’t, and everyone has their preference. Even if you’re not a fan of change, Gmail’s foundation of powerful filters, customizable labels, and automatic sorting is solid and allows a ton of room for tweaking your inbox to bend it to your will.

Outlook, on the other hand, is perfect for anyone who likes a streamlined workflow or uses a lot of professional productivity apps. Outlook puts the most relevant, important buttons right where you can see them and lets the power users go digging for options if they really want to. It also has deep ties not only to the rest of Microsoft’s Office apps, but plugins like Boomerang, Evernote, and more. While Google’s no slouch in the productivity department, Microsoft’s Outlook feels the most at home in an office setting.


LIFEHACKER.COM

Outlook Is a Completely New, Feature-Filled Webmail Service from Microsoft Whitson Gordon 7/31/12 9:00amFiled to: OUTLOOK 118.6K


Microsoft has launched a completely new email service called Outlook, which brings a simplified, Metro-inspired interface and lots of useful features to your inbox.

We've always thought Hotmail was an okay email service, and certainly the best alternative to Gmail. but Microsoft steps its game up to a whole new level with Outlook.

How Does the New Hotmail Stack Up to Gmail?
This may come as a surprise, but the new Microsoft Hotmail is actually pretty good. But how does it …Read more



The interface is clean and simple, focusing on the email in your inbox. The sidebar and title bars are slim and clutter-free, and even the ads are grey and unobtrusive.

Opening an email brings up a very Gmail-like conversation view, you can quickly create labels for any type of message, search using a number of different filters and operators, and navigate the interface with a host of keyboard shortcuts. If you don't like the default shortcuts, you can easily switch them to a Gmail- or Yahoo-like system, so you don't have to retrain your muscle memory either.

READ MORE...

So what does it have that other services don't?

Out of the box, Outlook can sync with your Facebook and Twitter accounts to grab contact into and photos, so everything's always up to date and you don't have to input it all yourself.

The ads are also designed to be less creepy: when viewing a newsletter, it'll show you related ads and deals, but in personal conversations, it'll show you a summary of that person's contact info instead of an ad that's mining your data for profit.

The inbox also has a very cool "Quick Actions" feature, that shows you actions like reply or delete when you hover over a message—and you can customize which actions show up (of course, keyboard shortcuts would still be faster).

Lastly, Outlook has a lot of features related to newsletters and other non-personal email. Newsletters are one of those things that can be great, but can also act as clutter.

Outlook automatically labels all incoming newsletter-type messages, and even adds an unsubscribe button to the bottom even if the newsletter didn't include one itself. It will attempt to contact the sender of the newsletter and unsubscribe you, and if that doesn't work, it'll just block all future messages from them.

You can also set up your inbox to only keep a certain number of new messages from one sender—or rather, automatically delete all newsletters except the newest one from a given sender. It's all really well thought out, and perfect for keeping up on those newsletters without creating extra inbox clutter.

Of course, it has a lot of other pretty great stuff too, like built-in Office viewers, photo slideshows, and more. Right now, Outlook is in preview, but anyone can sign up for access, so if you want to check it out, just hit the link below.

Outlook.com


WIRED ONLINE

SECURITY NEWS THIS WEEK: VERIZON REPORTEDLY WANTS A $1 BILLION DISCOUNT ON THE YAHOO DEAL LILY HAY NEWMAN SECURITY DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10.08.16.
10.08.16 TIME OF PUBLICATION: 9:53 AM.9:53 AM


GETTY IMAGES

Remember that Yahoo hack that compromised half a billion email accounts? Verizon does, too. And according to the New York Post, Big Red wants a billion-dollar discount on its $4.8 billion takeover offer for the lack of disclosure and general headache that comes with one of the biggest breaches in history. And that’s just one Yahoo story this week!

In the other, a Reuters report revealed that Yahoo had given law enforcement access to its email servers, allowing the NSA or FBI to scrape the emails of its users looking for a specific string of characters.

The controversial acquiescence reinforced that encryption can create its own unique set of tensions. Though not for Facebook, apparently; the company flipped the switch on end-to-end encryption for Messenger this week, and that is something you should definitely use.

Elsewhere it was a week of leaks and hacks, hacks and leaks.

A group called OurMind hacked Buzzfeed over an exposé of its members (or member, as it turns out). A purported hack of the Clinton Foundation turned out to be bogus, though it still fulfilled its likely goal of sowing disinformation. A security contractor not named Snowden has been charged with sneaking top-secret documents out of the NSA. And in another case of déjà vu, the feds want to crack another dead terrorist’s locked iPhone.

Meanwhile, online porn’s about to get safer, Trump continues to say worrying things about “the cyber,” Silk Road proprietor Ross Ublricht might end up with less than a life sentence, and we made a plea for transparency in the clemency system.

And there’s more: Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth but still deserve your attention. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted. And stay safe out there.

Verizon Wants a Major Discount on Its Deal to Buy Yahoo

READ MORE...



[Yahoo is telling Verizon that a deal is a deal and that the telecom giant has no legal avenue to change the terms. Yahoo’s next board meeting is in two weeks but the two parties are continuing discussions.

The setbacks, however, aren’t helping AOL, which hasn’t completed integrating itself with Verizon, which acquired it 16 months ago for $4.4 billion.

AOL CEO Armstrong’s push for a $1 billion discount on the price is, one person told The Post, on top of a $1 billion reserve that Verizon may set aside to fund possible liabilities associated with the Yahoo email hack. “They’re being cautious because they don’t know what they’re going to find,” the person said. Former acting CEO Ross Levinsohn told CNBC on Wednesday, “If I’m sitting at Verizon right now … just from a business standpoint, I’d probably reserve a bunch of money against the deal or go back to Yahoo and ask for a discount.”

Yahoo and Verizon declined comment.

Yahoo shares closed Thursday down 3 cents, to $43.68, while Verizon shares closed unchanged at $50.26.FROM NY POST OCTOBER 2016]

Yahoo’s fortunes have not improved this week, based on a New York Post report that Verizon wants a $1 billion markdown on its $4.8 billion agreement to buy the ailing tech giant.

The move comes after news two weeks ago that Yahoo had been hacked in 2014—compromising data from an astonishing 500 million accounts—and a report this week that the company had been scanning its email users’ messages since 2015 for specific search terms chosen by US law enforcement.

The goal of the deal is to unite Verizon-owned AOL and Yahoo to compete with the ad businesses of Facebook and Google, but the Post’s sources say that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has reservations about going through with the purchase given so much bad news from Yahoo. Verizon could just be angling for a lower sale price, but the company certainly has some leverage given the intensity of the negative news surround Yahoo.


TECHNOLOGY GUIDE

Email Showdown: Gmail vs. Yahoo! vs. Outlook vs. the Field November 1, 2013 by Vince Font Reads (137,196)

The reports of the death of email have been greatly exaggerated.

Ever since the start of the Facebook revolution, experts have been busily predicting the demise of everyone’s favorite method of communication. After all, why would anyone need an email account if they could communicate simply through Tweets and Facebook posts?

Alas, both Twitter and Facebook have blown the opportunity to position themselves as the successors of email through the creation of less-than-capable platforms: one limits you to 140 characters, the other makes you pay to talk to people who aren’t on your list of close pals.

Whatever. Email’s here to stay, and the best part about that is that it no longer comes at a cost. But how do you know which free email service will best fit your needs, especially if you want to use it for business purposes? To answer that, we got the skinny on some of the most high-profile web based email services and provided all the details below.

Gmail

Google Gmail is the standard-bearer of all free web based email programs. It’s lean and mean and fast as a bullet. Even better, it’s scary smart.
gmailFor example, if you try sending an email with the word “attachment” in the subject line but don’t attach a file, Gmail will let you know before it sends the message. Details like that make you realize the men and women behind Gmail are a crafty group of folks.

They’re so smart that they’ve even created a self-sufficient universe of bonus perks that make it practically impossible for you to get around on the web without a Google account. These days, if you want to sign in to YouTube and leave comments, upload videos, or create playlists of favorites, you’ll need a Google account — which comes with a Gmail account attached.

The same goes for accessing Google Play and a host of other nifty features you probably want to have, especially if you’re running a business and you need access to free email for your employees. Features like Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs) give businesses a cheap option around potentially costly Microsoft Office licenses. The fact that you can also access these features remotely on mobile devices makes it an even more crucial essential for the business looking to cut price corners.

Of course, anytime something comes free of charge you always end up paying. In Gmail’s case, you’ll have to suffer through (or learn to ignore) the ads that make it possible for you to have 15GB of cloud storage space at zero cost.

Aesthetically speaking, Gmail’s not exactly the ugliest dog on the block, but that’s not to say it couldn’t do with a nice makeover. The interface, which admirably attempts to incorporate everything onto one page, can sometimes feel a bit cluttered. And despite offering alternative themes, the choices are slim. No, it’ll never win any beauty pageants, but if what you’re looking for is a wide range of functionality and reliability, it’s hard to go wrong with Gmail.

Yahoo Mail

You have to give it to Yahoo; they’ve come a long way since the days of yore when having a Yahoo email account was only a small step above having a rinky-dink Hotmail account. And recently, thanks to the efforts of the company’s new CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has taken steps to up its game.

yahooBut when you compare the new dashboard against Gmail’s, you’ll see there’s very little to set it apart as anything other than a knockoff of a superior product with slightly more handsome (albeit fewer in number) themes.

Even the sidebar ads make it feel as if Yahoo’s simply torn a page from the Gmail handbook and is using it under a different name. Unlike Gmail, Yahoo Mail gives you the option to get rid of the ads once and for all – but you have to pay $5 per month to upgrade to “Ad Free Mail.”

Another example of Yahoo’s inferior capabilities is the fact that POP is not enabled, and you can’t forward emails, unless you spring for an additional $19.99 per year to get Mail Plus. Those committed to enjoying an entirely free web based email experience will also have to learn to live without optimized mail organization features present in other free email programs. For example, Yahoo Mail lets you create certain folders for organizing email messages, but hierarchical arrangement is off the table.

It’s not all bad news for Yahoo Mail. It’s well integrated with Flickr, making it easier to share photos with friends, and the 1TB of email storage space makes Gmail’s 15GB seem chintzy in comparison. But beyond that, it’s still an incredibly limited platform that’s easy to outgrow, especially if you’re looking for the types of professional inclusions that come as part of Gmail’s package, like Google Drive. You simply don’t get that superior “business” functionality with Yahoo Mail, which could very well be the deal killer that strikes this option off the list of possible free web based email alternatives.

Outlook.com

One of the great benefits of Outlook.com is its interface, which so closely resembles that of Microsoft Outlook that it makes for an incredibly simple transition for the user looking to switch up to a web based email solution. Microsoft’s email services have gone through a number of identity changes since 1997, when it acquired Hotmail, later rebranded as part of the Windows Live suite.

outlookBut this is no retrofitted Hotmail product. Instead, it’s a completely redesigned beast that actually trumps the aforementioned Gmail and Yahoo by offering its users unlimited email storage space – news that should make email hoarders and sentimentalists pump their fists in appreciation.

Outlook.com is also improved by the integration of the Microsoft-owned Skype, as well as People, Calendar and SkyDrive – the latter of which makes sending attachments as large as 300MB a possibility. You can’t even do that with Gmail, which limits each message to 25MB.

It’s also highly mobile-enabled, operating not only on Windows Phones but also on Android devices and iPhones.

Business users will enjoy the capabilities Outlook.com offers by way of allowing them to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents directly from their inbox without having to launch Office. There’s an enhanced search function that business users and consumers will enjoy, allowing you to filter email searches by folder, keyword, attachments, and date range. And it includes instant messaging too, which is cross functional with Facebook chat.

One of the few drawbacks of the service is that the interface doesn’t allow for much customization – but considering that the intent of the program is to replicate the feel of Microsoft Outlook, that’s not necessarily a big deal.

AOL Mail

aolFormer users of the 90s-era America Online service may cringe at the thought of signing up for an AOL Mail account, but its modern redesign may help to alleviate the concerns of the reticent. Today’s AOL Mail is a far cry from the old school service that once dominated the world of email and chat.

Desired tasks are clearly visible and the interface is attractive. Instant Messaging is still around, as are buddy lists, and the service’s Calendar features work well.

But the list of things AOL Mail can’t do is far too long for it to be a legitimate consideration unless all you’re looking for is a freebie email account. If the annoying presence of distracting ads isn’t enough to make you turn tail and walk away from AOL Mail, then it’s likely the lack of a feature that automatically checks for new email and informs you of its arrival might be the straw that breaks that camel’s back.

Mail.com

Even before you sign up for Mail.com, you’re notified of two of its most attractive selling points: the availability of unlimited storage, and the ability to choose from among 200 domains.

mailcomIf you’re not keen on the idea of having your email address be YourName@mail.com, you’ve got plenty of choices. These include dozens of job-related domains (@accountant.com, @bartender.net), hobby-related domains (@artlover.com, @collector.org), tech-related domains (@programmer.net, @consultant.com), music-related domains (@hiphopfan.com, @songwriter.net), USA-centric domains (@nycmail.com, @usa.com), world domains (@scotlandmail.com, @israelmail.com), and spiritual-themed domains (@angelic.com, @muslim.com). These are just to name a few. So far, so good.

The hammer falls, however, before you even get to your inbox, when you’re greeted with a laundry list of items that are not supported by the free version of Mail.com: an ad-free interface, SSL security encryption, POP3 and IMAP, and phone support. If any of the aforementioned are something you desire (and you really should at least want SSL encryption) your only option is to sign up for the Premium account, which will run you $3.95 per month or $19.95 per year.

You can continue to use Mail.com as a free email provider – which contains desirable features like the ability to create subfolders for email organization and 12 so-so design themes – but those interested in using the service for business purposes will find little else worthwhile here.

Hushmail

Touting itself as one of the most secure email providers on the planet (now that Lavabit has been effectively eliminated from the game by the U.S. government), Hushmail has come under a lot of criticism lately for its cooperation in handing over user information to requesting U.S. authorities. Therefore, let it not be said that Hushmail is the obvious choice for folks seeking a free email service that also delivers uber-security.

hushmailOn the positive end, Hushmail does offer strong encryption and spam filtering, as well as virus scanning on all incoming messages. Added security comes in the form of a “passphrase” that’s different from a password in that it can be much longer and more complex – however, if you happen to forget your passphrase, there is no way for the service to send you a reminder or reset it for you. You’ll simply have to create a new free account.

The peculiarities of Hushmail become evident the moment you to sign up for a free account, only to discover keeping it is contingent upon signing in at least once every three weeks and not exceeding 25MB of storage space.

For 1GB of expanded storage space, you can pay $34.99 per year. For 10GB and IMAP/POP functionality, the going premium is $49.98 per year. Business users can sign up for a separate Business plan, with expanded 10GB storage space per employee and the ability to establish a company domain name. Hushmail Business costs $5.24 per month per user, in addition to a $9.99 one-time setup fee. All of which, as you might imagine, tallies up somewhere in the neighborhood of “too much cash to ask” – especially in light of the other, more well established email providers that can give you a lot more storage space for free.

The Verdict

To each his own.

Not everyone will agree that Outlook.com and Gmail deserve to be at the top of the heap, and depending on your needs you may find yourself not taking advantage of some of the higher performing functions that these two offer.

Still, we believe an email account should leave room to grow – and if you’re seriously thinking about making use of a free email service for business purposes, there are about zero reasons why you shouldn’t opt for Outlook.com or Gmail.

In comparison to the established heavyweight champ of all desktop email clients, Microsoft Outlook, most web based email services suffer in comparison. But in the area of mobility, it’s tough to beat Outlook.com and Gmail.

In the end, the decision depends on what you’re looking to get out of it – and whether you’re comfortable storing a potential lifetime’s worth of email on a hard drive that could go “poof” overnight. There are, of course, backup storage solutions that can prevent this from ever happening.

But if the size and scope of your business can’t afford much beyond uber cheap, web-based email may be the solution to all of your communication and organizational challenges.


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