Microsoft Just Made it Easy to Ditch Gmail for Outlook - Technologist
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Microsoft Just Made it Easy to Ditch Gmail for Outlook

Microsoft or Google? If you'd asked me this question at any time in the last ten years, my response would have been an unhesitant "Google." Heck, I have an Android phone and tablet sitting next to me, and as I've lamented before, Google rules everything around me.

After the PRISM scandal, and the WiFi sniffing, and the privacy policy concerns, I'm starting to become a disaffected Googler. And with fellow PRISM-er (no one's perfect) Microsoft catching up to Google in terms of Skype, SkyDrive, Outlook, and collaborative document editing, I'm considering straying.

Plus, they just made switching email services really easy.

Is Gmail Still Good?

It's the classic innovator's dilemma: revolutionize, then stagnate.

Since its launching nearly ten years ago, how has Gmail changed? More storage space, they added that disastrous Buzz before killing it, added the Google+ layer, added some labels, and now there is a tabbed inbox that sorts your emails between "Primary," "Social," and "Promotions."

I like the new feature. Others don't. But it's not some life-changing revolution -- it's basically sorting incoming emails into folders. Microsoft Hotmail (RIP) did that.

Let's talk about why Gmail may actually be bad. They scan your emails for advertising. They're part of that PRISM nonsense. Most important, however, is the company's refusal to play nicely with third-party mail apps, an issue that irks Microsoft and Apple users.

Ed Bott, for ZDnet, speculates that this is because Google wants you to use Gmail in a browser so that they can track everything you do for advertising purposes.

What's the Alternative?

There are many, including PRISM-free alternatives, but our recommendation has to be the new Outlook.com (not to be confused with Microsoft Office's Outlook or corporate Outlook Web Access), which we reviewed earlier this year and were shocked to discover was actually good.

As much of an abomination as Hotmail was, Outlook is the exact opposite in terms of goodness. If you're considering switching, sign up for a free Outlook.com account and test drive it. And if your entire law firm needs custom @yourfirm.com email addresses, Microsoft will give you up to 500 free, along with Skydrive, Office Web Apps, and all of their other related services.

How Hard is it to Switch?

Got an hour or so? Microsoft just made a complicated process (which required downloading all of your past messages and syncing them with the new account manually) pretty darn easy.

Create an Outlook account. Use the new tool provided by Microsoft to migrate your email over. They'll email you instructions on how to tweak your Gmail account settings to forward email to Outlook. And the migration doesn't change anything on Gmail's end, so you can switch back if you so desire.

If the feature isn't showing up, try again in a week or so, as it is gradually rolling out to users.

Considering switching? Already done so? Tell us about it on LinkedIn.

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