Microsoft has never made any bones about the fact that Outlook.com was designed to lure users away from Gmail. Heck, the company said as much at launch, and even went out of its way to note that a third of its first 60 million users came over from Google. That's a good start, but it's clear Microsoft wants an even bigger piece of the pie: the outfit is introducing a tool that will make it even easier for new Outlook users to import their Gmail messages, contacts and folders. With this new feature, Microsoft can copy your emails from Google, marking them as either read or unread, depending on whether you got a chance to read them over on the Gmail side. The import tool also preserves your existing folder setup -- something Outlook didn't do when it first launched. Finally, you'll still be able to send emails from your Gmail account, even from within the Outlook.com interface.
Granted, some of these things have been possible for a while now; they just haven't been as intuitive. For instance, you could already forward new Gmail messages, and also transfer over older emails. But, says Dawn Martynuik, Director of Outlook, because this new tool is built on the IMAP standard it should be easier to use. So, if you're one of the reported one in four users (according to Microsoft) who would switch email providers if it were less of a hassle, you might want to look into it. The tool is rolling out now, but be warned: Microsoft says it could take a few weeks before everyone sees this import option in their settings.