Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

Summary: A new version of Hotmail is expected to hit the Web this summer and, while some of the features are kind of "been there, done that," others are pretty innovative.

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Microsoft is offering a sneak peek this week at the new version of Windows Live Hotmail, which is slated to be released sometime this summer. And while some of the tools feel a bit like a new way of doing something old, other features have a spark of innovation that should - and hopefully will - have the competition following suit.

Gallery: A look at the new Hotmail.

Among the features I liked was a new approach toward photo sharing and limitations on e-mail attachments. I wasn't surprised to hear that many people still share photos by sending them as e-mail attachments to friends and family. The problem is that most web-based e-mail services have limits on the file sizes you can send or receive. To address this, the new Hotmail will allow users to "attach" photos the same way they always did but, instead of attaching images to the email itself, the program will takes those "attachments" and upload them to Microsoft's consumer cloud, called SkyDrive, where they'll be converted to a photo album. On the recipient side, there's a link instead of attachments - no registration necessary.

I also like how Microsoft is taking something people have been able to do for years - create rules and filters for incoming e-mails. The company is adding one-click filters so users can only see, for example, e-mails from people in their contacts list, e-mails that contain social networking status updates or e-mails that seem to involve business, such as a shipping confirmation for something you bought. It also allows users to filter and forever block annoying senders - maybe the newsletter you get from the Prune Lovers Club because you once bought your Grandma a prune gift basket. (That's what you get...)

This is not new stuff - filters have been around forever. But Microsoft said that users tend to not go into advanced options to set them up. By putting the filters in front of the users and allowing them to manage the annoying messages with a couple of clicks, Microsoft is giving control of the e-mail inbox back to the masses. Even though the solution isn't new, the approach is worthy of some props.

But then there's other stuff, like taking a Word or Excel document and uploading it to the Web version of Office so it can be edited and shared for collaboration. Gmail has been offering to upload docs and spreadsheets and so on to Google Docs for sometime. Likewise, Microsoft touts being able to run Hotmail through the built-in mail client on smartphones, the same way exchange mail can be routed into the device. That's not new at all - web-based mail clients like Yahoo and Gmail have been able to do that for some time.

The company said the rollout of the new product will be done over several weeks this summer.

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Microsoft

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17 comments
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  • clouds

    i cant understand why it is taking so long for all of these companies, who host/provide these public clouds/services, to integrate a much better method of file sharing into their basic email service. they need to introduce document, video, picture, etc. sharing on a much more intimate level. they have the opportunity to reinvent email here, which the internet desperately needs, and in turn define the cloud. yet their services are, by in large, becoming stagnant and stale! with ever passing day sites like facebook, which is nothing more than a gimmick (and not because of the privacy settings which everyone makes a bigger fuse about than is necessary), become more and more entrenched in the daily lives of millions of people world wide. it is nothing but a hindrance on progression, but thats not to say its not without its uses. the opportunity for these companies to overhaul and redesign existing, ancient protocols and bring them into the 21st century is slipping away. where is the innovation???!!! its sad, this is 2010. the turnover for creative ideas needs to happen faster! the above effort from microsoft is something, but it is nowhere near what can be. talk about a lack of vision. (when the courier died, it was obvious that all innovation has since fled that company.)

    the cloud is a fantastic idea, but its still in its infancy, and has been for far TOO long. it needs structure, protocols, it needs a formal definition, it has none of these! these companies have an opportunity to work together, collaborate, develop and define it, but i hear nothing of the sort happening.

    google wave looks promising, but its been in preview forever! get it together silicon valley/redmond, for everyones sake.

    below is linked a great article.

    http://devcentral.f5.com/weblogs/macvittie/archive/2009/11/03/maybe-ubuntu-enterprise-cloud-makes-cloud-computing-too-easy.aspx

    the tagline of which reads:

    "With just a few clicks you, too, can create a cloud computing environment. But if you??????re like a lot of organizations, you may not know what to do with it after that."

    qft. the cloud, and all its infinite potential is just that, potential. it is too abstract for practice use in business right now. reform NEEDS to happen, and the sooner the better imo. what better place to start, than with the public clouds of these hundred billion dollar companies.
    eric.canham@...
  • Thunderbird?

    If I no longer have to route my Hotmail through Gmail to get my mail synced (synced, as in IMAP, not downloaded, as in POP) with Thunderbird, then I'll consider coming back to Hotmail. Not before.
    Nimelennar
    • RE: Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

      @Nimelennar

      IMAP would be great. Gmail and Aim have it!
      fallout330
  • Subfolders!

    Finally! I've been using Hotmail for years. Took them long enough but at least we'll finally have subfolders.
    mike.celone@...
  • RE: Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

    I like this new look. Nice and clean, not cluttered like the other web mail services. Now with the integration, Microsoft just stepped up what web mail is supposed to be! Its going to be fun watching the competition scramble to catch up.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Oddly the features that were shown here...

      @Loverock Davidson are mostly already available in other services like Google. If they aren't I expect Google to be quick to add them, since Google's development approach appears to be much more agile than Microsoft's
      technology@...
  • Hotmail Delivery Issues

    I would think that they would be more concerned with correcting their delivery issues rather than concentrating on making it pretty. Why not functional first? Oh and add a support group that supports. What a novel idea;-)
    smarlin@...
  • too little too late

    The only thing I liked about hotmail was the ability to link in with my outlook express. Unfortunately, the spam I received, despite the rigorous application of all anti-spam efforts available to me, was more than I could stand. I hadn't had the same problems with excite! (for a while anyway, they went downhill) nor yahoo!.
    CaptOska
  • RE: Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

    I'm hoping these new features are usable through Outlook Connector with my Office Live account.

    I'm also looking fwds to the Exchange ActiveSync for use with my Palm Pre!
    jasqid
  • Photo Album Similar to Naver.com

    The phot album process is essentially the same as the Korean serch engine and super-portal Naver.com's offering. I'm glad to see that. We need to get away from attachments.
    daengbo
  • RE: Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

    I still rather Gmail and with Google you have Reader,Docs and more services.I just miss tabs as in Yahoo mail and maybe a start page as Yahoo has.
    anto31
  • Filters are good

    We'll see how much control we're given with filters. I quit using Hotmail for lack of such control years ago. But 1 click huh? We'll see.
    GuntherGump
  • Hopefully they don't follow GMail

    As long as they don't go down that stupid path GMail did with its coversation threads. Its an absolute pain in the ass and whilst it might be fine for the younger generation who want to network with their friends those of us who just want a simple email service find that a real nuisance to deal with and you can't turn the conversation format off.
    Adam03
  • Opting out of SkyDrive?

    I hope there is a way to opt out of SkyDrive. It says no registration required, but what if I do not want this SkyDrive business?

    When someone deletes the emails, those attachments are gone too. How does this happen with the SkyDrive approach?
    alokgovil
    • Opt out...? Whatever for?

      @alokgovil
      Skydrive is part of the Windows Live family. If you've got a Hotmail account - you've already got access to Skydrive.
      Wolfie2K3
  • RE: Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

    Finally more folders? That's been available in hotmail awhile. It also integrates just fine with IMAP. skydrive is an easy file sharing tool though slow, spam filters already function, never had an issue. It's at least as adequate as gmail.

    @anto31-gmail has a start page-sort of. It's called iGoogle that you can customize.

    @adam03-you can change the conversation format to flat view. Go into settings and labels and show or hide what you choose.

    All this fuss about web based mail I don't understand. I have several. Yes, even yahoo which was the first web email I ever had and no longer use, several gmail accounts each with a purpose, etc, etc,

    I have Live, aka hotmail, as my main one because it's very easy to send all other web mail I choose through, create filters for what I get and don't want and connects with office seamlessly. Skydrive and most of the mentioned 'new' features are really already there. Check options occasionally. Though a 25GB skydrive is already there, the auto upload vs attachment is intriguing. You can be certain skydrive will be exploited by spammers, viruses, etc.

    ANd I will say this for Live/Hotmail-I have NEVER lost an email, had one not received, it's as reliable as they come. Moreso than the paid service I use at work. When something is really important to get to a client? I send it with hotmail via outlook.

    My only issue with ANY webmail service has been uploading docs or attachments. A minor inconvenience but can slow productivity.

    Everyone else on the crusade against web mail? Keep on shellin' out your cash for what most people can get for free. Your choice.

    Now I know I'm gonna receive all kinds of 'fanboy' crap. But the plain fact is that it works. Just as well as any other. Including anything apple and linux have to offer.
    ssc@...
  • RE: Coming soon: New look, new features for Hotmail

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