Microsoft has always allowed Outlook.com users to import Gmail messages, but the company is making it a lot easier for users to switch from Google’s mail service today. Thanks to the recent addition of IMAP support for Outlook.com, Microsoft is using the protocol to provide a new switching service to potential Outlook.com users. The new tool, rolling out today, will copy all mail from a Gmail account — including all labels and their structures — and allow new Outlook.com users to access their existing Gmail contacts and Google Talk within Outlook.

Switching just got easier as Microsoft targets Gmail users

The import is triggered on the server side, and the most recent emails will be imported first before the rest are downloaded and imported. While Microsoft previously offered POP3 support to import Gmail messages, it was complicated to set up and the process didn’t import emails with their read status and labels. Microsoft’s new tool is greatly improved, and it's the latest way the company is trying attract more Gmail users to its free email service. The software giant rolled out Google Talk support earlier this year as another method to tempt Gmail users to switch, and Microsoft recently pledged to work with competitors to protect email data traveling between services. A Microsoft spokesperson tells The Verge this latest switch tool was developed independently.

While Microsoft is trying to tempt more users to Outlook.com, Google recently made it easier for existing users to export their data to other services. Gmail users can now download all of their email messages or calendar appointments in an MBOX format to import into other email services. Microsoft's last attempt to encourage Gmail users to switch to Outlook.com didn't impress Google's CEO. Larry Page accused Microsoft of taking advantage of Google’s interoperability, noting that "you can't have people milking off of just one company."