More new Microsoft Hotmail features targeting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011

More new Microsoft Hotmail features targeting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011

Summary: Microsoft is adding more granular spam-fighting and organization tools to Hotmail between now and the end of the year, officials said on October 3.


Microsoft is adding more new features to Hotmail between now and the end of this year that will help users better fight spam and declutter their inboxes, officials said on October 3.

The coming, more granular features announced today at live events in New York and San Francisco build on the spam-fighting technologies the Hotmail team has rolled out in recent months. Microsoft officials said the next group of spam-fighting features will help users target "gray mail," or mail that may or may not be actual spam, depending on a user's view.

Among the soon-to-be-rolled-out features: Newsletter filtering, including “unsubscribe”: The new filtering automatically will categorize incoming mail as "newsletters" and sweep all messages categorized this way into a folder which can be deleted altogether. Via this feature, users can be removed from mailing lists and/or block future incoming "newsletter" content by using the "Unsubscribe" feature (which will cue Hotmail to ask a company to remove the user from a mailing list). More advanced folder management, with "categories" designation: Users will be able to create and apply their own categories to individual mail messages inline. Users can use Hotmail's Sweep with categories, too. Users will be able to manage folders inline and right-click on them to rename, delete, empty or mark a whole folder as "unread."

Scheduled clean-up: Users can automatically get rid of emails "of a certain age." They also can subscribe to a site and delete everything except the most recent message (if so desired). With scheduled Sweep, users can also choose to move emails from a sender to a folder or delete the message(s) after 3, 10, 30, or 60 days.

"Flags done right": Users can flag messages so they will stay at the top of their inbox, regardless of the amount of mail they have received in the interim. Flags also work with Sweep. Instant actions: Users will see buttons appear for the most common taks when they hover over a message, enabling quicker delete, flag, Sweep and other functions. Users can add or remove buttons, customize the order of buttons or turn off Instant Actions completely.

The rollout of these features will start "soon," after Microsoft finishes swatting a few more bugs and will be out to all users this year, officials said.

Microsoft did not share information on what is coming with Windows Live Wave 5 or about the rumored HTML5 version of Hotmail today.

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Microsoft


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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  • On Behalf Of

    As a business person with multiple e-mail "identities" the only thing that matters is getting rid of the "sent on behalf of" cruft when I try to choose among my (valid) source e-mail addresses. HotMail and any other Microsoft e-mail services that don't let me choose my From address are unusable, hence, Microsoft forces me to use Yahoo/GMail.
    • RE: More new Microsoft Hotmail features targetting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011


      What do you mean? The ability to send a new email message using a different email address? Hotmail does that... You just have to add them and verify them (as others do) under Mail options.
  • RE: More new Microsoft Hotmail features targetting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011

    I hope they update the user interface. The current one is hideous! It is outdated and feels extremely clunky.

    I am saddened to hear that this event was more about explaining what they've done, not really what they are going to do. I still have many issues, like the refresh icon will sometimes fail to actually refresh my inbox. I know there is new email, but it doesn't show it until I refresh the entire page... Other times the unread counts on folders are no longer correct, then when clicking on a message to load it in the preview pane, it doesn't load it!
    • They are


      Apparently, they're giving it an HTML5 makeover.
      Michael Alan Goff
  • WoW

    Life has certainly gotten tough............
  • Don't live in the browser anymore

    I like, but I spend most of my email time on my iPhone. For graymail, I use the SpringClean app, costs next to nothing and whacks ???graymail???, in Gmail and Yahoo mail too.
  • This is step in the right direction

    I particularly look forward to the improved newsletter filtering mechanisms.

    Getting more granular control over an Inbox through improved filtering is always welcome; that and keeping spam / unsolicited mail to an absolute minimum (if not eliminating it altogether).
  • RE: More new Microsoft Hotmail features targetting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011

    I would realy like to see an interface that looks, feels and behaves more like Outlook.

    Better contact management especially is badly needed - especially for tighter integration with Windows Phone 7.5.
  • RE: More new Microsoft Hotmail features targetting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011

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  • RE: More new Microsoft Hotmail features targetting 'gray mail' due by end of 2011

    Is it just me?
    Since the updated features were launched, I can't copy text out of emails (Mac/Safari). I can't copy paragraphs sent by collaborators -and it makes Hotmail useless for receiving software confirmations, because I can't copy product keys, passwords, etc.
    If this is deliberate then at one stroke they've made Hotmail useless.