Windows Live Hotmail

Microsoft just announced the release of Windows Live Hotmail this morning. Word got out last week that today was going to be the big day, and it was indeed. Windows Live Hotmail is now available in 36 different languages on the Hotmail website. This is, however, going to be something that gets rolled out over the coming days, so it won’t be available for everyone just yet. When it is available for you to upgrade you’ll see a green button in your Inbox to join the new Windows Live Hotmail program.

So what’s new? Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy in Windows Live Hotmail:

  • With right-click and drag-and-drop capabilities, preview pane customization and auto-complete addressing, all designed for optimal productivity, Windows Live Hotmail looks and feels more like the Outlook software millions use at work every day.
    • Customers can choose how they view their Windows Live Hotmail. The classic version looks similar to MSN Hotmail for those who prefer the familiar look, while full version works more like Outlook with more advanced functionality.
    • Customers can make their Windows Live Hotmail inbox their own with a choice of color themes.
  • Windows Live Messenger presence is built into Windows Live Hotmail so customers can see from their inbox if their Messenger contacts are online. If a contact is online, customers can begin a conversation with the contact directly.
  • With an inbox storage size starting at 2 GB, Windows Live Hotmail will continue to grow its storage capacity to meet customer needs.
  • When an e-mail message arrives in the Windows Live Hotmail inbox after multiple safety checks, the safety bar at the top of each e-mail message will give a visual cue of the status of the e-mail: white indicates the e-mail is from a known sender, yellow indicates the e-mail is from an unknown sender and red indicates the e-mail is potentially fraudulent.
  • With one click on the “mark as unsafe” link, customers can automatically delete junk e-mail messages, block any future e-mail messages from that junk e-mail sender, and report the junk e-mail sender to Microsoft’s spam filters to help protect others.

What I’m wondering now is how long Microsoft will continue to let people use the classic Hotmail interface without upgrading to Windows Live Hotmail. They aren’t forcing the upgrade which is both good and bad. It is good because customers will be able to stick with what they are already familiar with, but it is bad because many users would probably love the new service if they were forced to use it. Not only that but they do also offer a “classic” feel to Windows Live Hotmail that don’t for those who aren’t fond of the Outlook-like interface, so the upgrade really wouldn’t be that bad.

Personally I am still attached to Gmail, and find that even Yahoo! Mail Beta is better mostly because of the tabbed interface they offer. Windows Live Hotmail isn’t bad, but it also isn’t good enough for me to switch from Gmail. If I did switch to another provider there is no doubt in my mind that it would be for Yahoo! Mail Beta.

Also, many of you are probably wondering what is going on with the release of email addresses. Well, in short I can say that nothing has happened with them. New signups for the addresses are still closed to the public, but I still have my trusty address that Microsoft never deleted from the workarounds that were found about a year ago. I would have thought that the email addresses would have been released today with the new email service, but it appears that is not the case. Maybe after it gets rolled out to everyone Microsoft will open those doors.