Gmail vs. Outlook: What is the difference?

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Difference between Gmail and Outlook

Gmail and Outlook are some of the most widely used email programs around, and they have more than their fair share of fans. Of course they have their own relative advantages and disadvantages as well, and these are what we tackle in this comparison article.



Gmail is a free email service provided by Google. In addition to email services, Gmail also offers a variety of POP3 and IMAP services. First released to a limited audience in April 1, 2004, Gmail was later released to the public on February 7, 2007. It would however take two more years before Gmail’s beta status would be lifted, which was concurrent with the corresponding official release of the Google Apps suite. Gmail is currently used by more than 193 million users from all over the world.

Microsoft’s Outlook is marketed as a personal information manager, and it is available in two forms: as a standalone application, and as part of the Microsoft Office suite. Outlook is currently sold in Windows and Mac versions.

Distinguishing Features

Gmail looks quite a bit different from other webmail systems, since it focuses more on search features and it provides a unique email view that groups several replies in one page. According to Gmail designer, Kevin Fox, this is meant to give users the feel of always being on one page without having to browse to other pages as other webmail clients require.

Outlook is most commonly used for email of course, but it actually includes a wealth of features such as a calendar, a task manager, a contact manager, note features, journals and a web browser. Outlook can also be used as a standalone application, or it can be used in conjunction with applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server. These other programs allow you to use Outlook for tasks such as sharing mailboxes, calendars, and other data. Outlook also allows developers to use Microsoft Visual Studio in order to create custom software that works with Outlook as well as other Office applications.

Security and Privacy Concerns

Both Gmail and Outlook have been on the receiving end of numerous criticisms, with many having to do with security and privacy concerns. Many have questioned Google’s policy of automatically scanning e-mails and adding context-sensitive advertisements for instance, and its implications with regard to personal privacy. Also questioned was the fact that email sent from other services were routinely scanned by Google as well, even though their senders never agreed to Google’s terms and conditions of use.

Outlook fared no better with the critics, with many questioning its security. To its credit however, Microsoft has since seen fit to address such issues with later release ofOutlook.

Similarities and Differences


  • A free email service provided by Google
  • Currently used by more than 193 million users from all over the world


  • Marketed as a personal information manager
  • Available as a standalone application and as part of the Microsoft Office suite


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