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Microsoft launches to rival Gmail

Skype video chat in inbox.
Skype video chat in inbox.

(CBS News) Microsoft announced the launch of, a new online email service, on Tuesday.

CNET: Microsoft hands-on

The email service features a clean design, integration with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, a new photo viewer, Skype calls inside the inbox and the ability to pull contacts from Facebook and LinkedIn.

"We think the time is right to reimagine personal email, from the datacenter to the user experience," Chris Jones, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Windows Live, said in a press release. "So today we're introducing a preview of" is replacement for Hotmail online, but serves as its own email service. Users can either connect any email address, Microsoft or not, or create a new account.

While there are many similarities between the Outlook and Gmail, Microsoft has the benefit of owning and partnering with several popular products, like Office Suite, Skype and Facebook. Microsoft announced that it would acquire Skype in May 2011. Users can open Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents from an email, then view and edit documents online.

Skype video chats can also be launched from the inbox. However, that feature is not yet live. The company says the feature will be available "soon."