Outlook.com is a free email, calendar, and contact service offered by Microsoft.  Using a Hotmail, Windows Live, or Outlook.com account, email, calendar events, and contacts may be synced in real time to an Android device from Outlook.  For brevity, I will refer to all Hotmail, Windows Live, and Outlook.com accounts as Outlook.com in the rest of this review.

Outlook must first be set up to include the Outlook.com account.  When setting up the account in Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010 the Outlook Hotmail Connector will be needed.  In Outlook 2013, no connector is need.  Outlook 2010 asked me to install the connector automatically, while I'm not sure about the other versions.  The Outlook.com account must also be set up on the Android device.  After this, syncing is all automatic.

My Droid easily accepted the Outlook.com account, synced the calendar to a separate Outlook.com calendar, and allowed a merged view of both the standard Android and Outlook.com calendars.  If I added a new calendar item on my Android using the Outlook.com calendar, it was pushed to Outlook in a few minutes.   When adding a calendar event, you have the option of which calendar gets the event, so be sure to choose the Outlook.com account or the event will not be synced with Outlook.com.  This applies to Outlook.com contacts as well.

Outlook.com has a few advantages over Gmail.  Outlook.com syncs calendar and contacts in addition to email all for free, while Gmail only syncs email for free.  Google makes you pay for Google Apps for $50/year to receive Calendar and Contact syncing.

There are a few extra things worth mentioning.  The Outlook connector allows you to enter Notes and Tasks in Outlook, but they are clearly noted as being in Outlook only.  Notes and tasks do not sync to Outlook.com.  It is important to understand that only the Outlook.com email, calendar, and contacts will be synced.  Standard Outlook calendar, contacts, and any other email accounts configured in Outlook will not be synced.  However, you can configure Outlook.com to receive email from many other email accounts and that email will be synced with Outlook and your Android.

Microsoft and Seven have released an Outlook.com app for Android.  I did not use this app for my testing and do not find it necessary for syncing.

Outlook.com as it stands does not sync contact pictures or categories, nor calendar categories. CompanionLink offers a method of syncing Outlook, including categories, contact pictures, and tasks, to an Outlook.com account and then your Android can be configured to sync to Outlook.com.  Using this combined with the Outlook Connector will allow you to also sync email.

If you are interested in using Outlook.com, you can find Microsoft’s official instructions here along with information on how to install the unnecessary Outlook.com app:

Microsoft Outlook.com Instructions