The new Outlook.com has come from the fuuuuuuuutuuuuure (insert Theremin time travel sounds) where your email service does a lot more than just send and receive messages. One of Outlook's coolest features: It integrates seamlessly with your social networks, allowing you to stay connected in real-time with your friends. Here's how to make the most of what Outlook.com has to offer.
Outlook.com connects into the social networks most of us use every day – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When you create your Outlook.com account, or upgrade your old Hotmail.com account, make sure to add your social network accounts so that you have access to all your friends contact information. Plus, A little birdie also told us that the site will soon be able to hook up with Skype for audio and video calls.
Once you connect your Outlook.com account to your social network accounts, your People pane (where all your contacts are listed) will automatically populate with all your Facebook (and Twitter, and LinkedIn etc.) friends. To message a mate, click the little smiley icon in the top right. A bar begging you to "Start new conversation" will pop up. Click it, and the names of all your online friends will fill the list (the easy way to tell that they're online: look for the green bar that runs up their photo). You can also search for offline pals (or ones who are faking it), and leave them a message for later.
Nobody knocking? No, it's not that nobody likes you — you just could be a unintentionally out of sight. To make yourself visible, click your name at the top right of the screen. From there, you can switch between "Available" or "Invisible." You can even specify which networks you want to be available on — great if you're cool with your Messenger friends saying "Hi," but are avoiding some folks on Facebook.
While some folks certainly want to save their messaging history (evidence!), others would rather it disappear into the ether (evidence...). By default, Outlook.com doesn't save your chat transcripts, but you can change that by clicking the little gear icon on the top right of Outlook and then going to "More mail settings". The "Messaging history" setting is under "Managing your account."
Once you start chatting with a friend, you'll see a little smiley face above the text box. Click it, and you'll have your pick of pre-typed emoticons. And these aren't your colon + parenthesis combos of yore. They are newmoticons — perfect for expressing all you're deepest, word-free, post-modern thoughts. Selecting them will literally save you seconds! : )
There you have it: Five tips to help you share cat videos and Doctor Who spoilers instantly via the new Outlook.com chat system. Head here to get your account now.