Microsoft’s Targets Gmail with Import Tool

Microsoft has set aside the "Scroogle" sarcasm, at least for now, in its latest effort to win customers from its high-tech rival. Redmond is getting practical with a new service to ease importing your Gmail account to Outlook.

The tool is rolling out over the next few weeks. But will it make a difference?

"When we first launched, we set out to shake up the world of personal e-mail," said Microsoft's Naoto Sunagawa. "We wanted to build a service that was personal and designed for modern devices, with a clean user experience and smart and powerful tools that let our customers get things done faster."

According to Sunagawa, the response to has been overwhelmingly positive, but discontent with e-mail services is growing. Indeed, he pointed to an Ipsos Public Affairs study from November that revealed one in four consumers would switch e-mail providers if it was easier to do.

The study also highlighted the areas that customers identified as most important. Those areas include: ensuring ads don't interfere with the e-mail experience (70 percent); offering advanced spam filters (69 percent); providing an easy-to-understand user interface (67 percent); and not scanning the contents of e-mail to serve ads (58 percent).

"We have focused on many of these areas with, and so for those looking to make a change in their personal e-mail provider, is a natural choice," Sunagawa said. "It's easier than ever to switch."

Wooing Discontented Users

And with that Sunagawa threw down the gauntlet. He first acknowledged that the thought of switching to a new Web-based e-mail service can seem daunting even if you are frustrated with your current provider. Then he introduced a new functionality in that promises to do the heavy lifting.

"All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to connect your...

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