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

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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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