The launch of Outlook free personal Web mail service by Microsoft is a welcome piece of news for users, being a rare opportunity for many to get an email ID of their choice.
One can already see there’s a rush. Soon after I got the launch, in its preview form now, I tried signing up with my first name as Outlook user ID but in vein. It was already taken by one of my namesakes. I could still manage to get a decent combination of my first and second names for the ID. Admittedly, people with very common names, like mine, would have seen the IDs getting exhausted very quickly. Luck could last longer for people with more unique names.
With this rollout, Microsoft has got two active personal mail services (the other one being Hotmail), and the assumption doing the rounds is that the Hotmail service would be dumped in favor of Outlook, over a period of time. Would it be?
While an Outlook ID does stand to attract users from corporate and business backgrounds and more so in metros and tier 1 cities, it may not have sufficient pull power for home users, especially those coming from smaller towns. Hotmail could still enjoy a stronger branding over Outlook for a wide range of demographic profiles, so improving Hotmail would make good sense, dumping it could be  bad move. 
There could be other reasons too for users not wanting to readily migrate to Outlook and perhaps one big deterrent could be the non-availability of a preferred ID. Why would users who have their first names as Hotmail IDs, for instance, like to migrate unless they got it for Outlook too?
Yes, Hotmail could see an exodus if Microsoft stopped introducing newer features to Hotmail and left it to languish in a zero-development stage, which obviously doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, another striking aspect is that now both Hotmail and Outlook login pages have exactly the same looks and feels. 

(As published in Deccan Chronicle, Bangalore, on Aug 2, 2012; expanded article.)
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