Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

Summary: Microsoft is planning a Hotmail press event in October that may mark the introduction of a new (and maybe HTML5-based) version of its Web-based e-mail service.


Microsoft is inviting New York and San Francisco press and analysts to an October 3 event involving Hotmail. Here's the invitation:

"We listened. We learned. We reinvented Hotmail from the ground up," says the invitation. "From performance to spam to security and more, we're going to challenge your perceptions and show how we stack up against the competition."

There's no indication beyond those words as to what this press event will be about. But I have a theory, based on tips I received earlier this year. I'm thinking this could be the rollout of an HTML5 version of Hotmail -- one that would offer offline access.

Microsoft's not sharing anything beyond what's in this email. But the timing would make sense, given the Softies are ready to start rolling out test builds of Windows 8 optimized for tablets. In the past few days, both Samsung and ASUS have been talking up their new Windows 7 tablets that hopefully will be Windows 8 compatible and upgradable. And Microsoft is expected to provide Build attendees with a tablet of some sort (I still hear Intel-based) running the Windows 8 bits.

Microsoft is known to be readying an HTML5 version of Bing that looks a whole lot like the Bing iPad application. (I'm not clear right now if this is a Web site/app or a "native" application... or both.) Another app that could really show off what HTML5 apps can do would be Hotmail... especially if coupled with an updated SkyDrive cloud-storage service (with maybe even more storage than the 25GB currently offered).

Google recently reintroduced offline access to GoogleDocs using HTML5 (but only for Chrome browser users running Version 13 or higher), after pulling their Google Gears feature over a year ago. Microsoft officials recently wrote a post detailing Microsoft's take on where the new Google offline functionality falls short.

Microsoft sent out the invitations to its upcoming Hotmail event the day after the company experienced a massive, three-hour Hotmail and SkyDrive outage. I'm kind of surprised I didn't hear from a single reader last night anywhere who was affected. There also was a simultaneous Office 365 outage which Microsoft officials were attributing to a DNS issue. Again, maybe because of the late-night timing, I didn't hear from any of my usual long-suffering BPOS or Office 365 users about any problems last night.

Regardless of outcry or lack thereof, the outage was a black eye for Microsoft's cloud offerings. That said, I've had a Hotmail account for a couple of years now and have to say I've been pleasantly surprised with the relative lack of spam and increasingly frequent introduction of new features.

Anyone have any other guesses (educated or not) about what Hotmail press event next month will address?

Update: Microsoft officials are pouring cold water on my theory and are saying a bit more as of this evening. A spokesperson said: "This event is not considered a launch of a reinvented Hotmail. The event will include an intimate, honest discussion and new data linked to the reinvention that took place last year (plus updates since then), based on a lot of learning. You'll also hear about intriguing competitive perspectives and some additional news."

I'll be surprised if Microsoft holds a big press event with nothing but a little "additional news." I guess we'll have to wait until Oct. 3 for more (unless anyone shares more specifics on what might be happening before that).

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Collaboration, Software Development, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

    I'm excited about a new image and new features for Hotmail. I hope a catch-all/wildcard "*" email alias option for domains gets added. If that gets added, I'd drop Google Apps GMail for Windows Live Hotmail!
    • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

      @EricDBoyd ,

      Google Apps, Zoho all mail providers have catch all feature.. MS doesnt have it ?
  • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

    arrghh Not more blue and orange!!!!
  • Nice but I'd rather have them focus on getting the backend onto Azure

    and get all the accounts geo-diversified replication so no hotmail user ever cant log on or send/receive email for a single minute even if an entire data center goes down for a month.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Microsoft should give itself and image makeover

    Oh wait, it's still Microsoft, the 1980s IBM of the modern era.
    • Didn't you read the article

      They're rebranding the service. New colours are expected. Forget the outages. <br><br>Some new tablets being pushed by their OEMs MIGHT even run windows 8 when it's released, but we don't know if they will because it doesn't exist, nor when it will exist.

      The talk of HTML5 is also interesting given IE has the worst support of any browser, by a considerable margin. Or are we expected to be running the development version 10?
      <br><br>MS is a company really going places;-)
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

        @Richard Flude

        [i]MS is a company really going places[/i]

        Now if we could just get you to go somewhere... anywhere, other than here.
        Hallowed are the Ori
      • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

        @Richard Flude <br>With this single post you just put yourself equal to SJVN aka The Linux Geek.
        Ram U
    • yeah, better to stick with the 1990's Linux

      @GoPower It does a lot less than other OS's, but it's free, Free, FREE!
      • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

        @otaddy nailed it :-p
  • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

    New and improved Hotmail, now with even more distinct single-pixel borders between regions and aligned Arial text.
  • Please for the love of god add IMAP

    The 90's called. They want their POP3 back. Please, Microsoft, enable IMAP.
  • people use hotmail still?

    revamping hotmail seems a last hope. haven't used mine in a long time.
  • Recovering lost generations

    Microsoft's "branding" problem with Hotmail is like General Motors' problem with many Americans. The car maker produced vehicles with shoddy components, like transmissions that failed at 50 K miles, insuring that future purchases would be for reliable cars from Japan. Few of those burdened with this experience will ever buy a GM car again no matter what the reviews say.

    For Microsoft, years of neglect, crippled features, and a "kid stuff" service convinced many to switch to Gmail or, gasp, actually pay for email services, with no ads, from hosted solutions.

    Will Hotmail grow up and join the adult world or is this just another cosmetic do over? How about an Android or iPhone app? Where is Hotmail in the mobile world? Hello, anyone there?
    • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

      @djysrv@...,<br>"How about an Android or iPhone app?"<br>I'm not sure what you are asking for, iOS and Android devices sync emails, calendar and contacts via ActiveSync. So you don't need an app to have Hotmail on your mobile device.<br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>
      • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

        @dvm What he is saying is that he is exactly like most of the vocal anti-softies who are still living in the 1990's. Although a tiny minority, they continue to re-hash old ideas in hopes that if they attack Microsoft and the majority of the world that uses Microsoft products that maybe, just maybe their free, linux OS that doesn't do much will hopefully someday do more and take over the world...(oh, by the way, I run a linux distro for my firewall...and I love
    • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

      @djysrv@...Some services like Zoho Mail, have no ad versions even for free mail service. May be time to try them out..
  • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

    The million dollar question is: with they do anything about the massive amount of spam emanating from hotmail addresses? I swear 2/3 of the spam I get is form
    • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

      • RE: Microsoft to give Hotmail an image (and feature) makeover

        @sackbut .... I love all the +1 references that people use in replies, but nobody clicks on the +1 buttons???? Even if Google+ never takes off, at least they will have spawned a catchy "phrase"....can you call it a phrase???