Microsoft is betting that a new simplified interface and a name change will improve its Web-based email fortunes. Though it's still in the lead worldwide, according to the latest number from comScore, the company's Hotmail service has steadily been losing ground to Google's Gmail.

The name, which was released as a preview today, was chosen as a name people associate with email, but without the baggage of Hotmail. The service builds on recent work the company has done to greatly speed up and clean up its webmail offering, with class-leading tools for organizing and keeping email inboxes free not only of outright spam, but of all that borderline lower priority email.

The new service will tie in snugly with the leading social networks—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—allowing users to communicate with all of these through the single site. That includes Facebook Chat, and, soon, the industry-leading Skype video-calling service, which Microsoft recently acquired.

The service will also integrate with other Microsoft services—unified Contacts, Calendar, and the SkyDrive cloud storage service. A unique capability of is that it can view Office documents from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint directly inside the Inbox, using the cloud versions of those applications, called Office Web Apps.

PC Magazine