In this issue:
Microsoft Launches Windows Live Hotmail
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Early this week Microsoft announced the availability of Windows Live Hotmail, the successor to the company's popular MSN Hotmail Web-based email service. Hotmail has been around since 1996 and according to Microsoft has more than 280 million active accounts.
According to Microsoft, Windows Live Hotmail will deliver a safer, more powerful and productive e-mail experience than previous versions with flexible access via the Web, on a mobile phone or with an e-mail client. Microsoft also announced that later this month Windows Live Hotmail customers will be able to access their Windows Live Hotmail e-mail and contacts using Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 or Office Outlook 2007 via the new Microsoft Office Outlook Connector beta.
"We're thrilled to deliver Windows Live Hotmail to the more than 280 million active MSN Hotmail accounts around the world," said Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of the Online Services Group at Microsoft. "Windows Live Hotmail represents an extremely compelling end-to-end e-mail experience that makes it easy for customers to get best-of-breed e-mail access across PCs, mobile devices and the Web. Windows Live Hotmail is a cornerstone online service for Microsoft and a critical part of our online advertising business because e-mail is a key point of influence for consumer purchases. We're pleased to announce the launch of the service to advertisers in addition to consumers on the eve of the Microsoft Strategic Account Summit."
Windows Live Hotmail begins rolling out on May 7 and consumers can sign up for a new Windows Live Hotmail account. Current MSN Hotmail customers can update their existing account to Windows Live Hotmail by logging into their account and clicking on the green Join Windows Live Hotmail button.
Microsoft has been beta-testing the new Windows Live Mail for months, but many beta testers weren't happy. Microsoft had planned the new Windows Live Mail to be a stylish Web 2.0 application to challenge Yahoo & Google mail, but the end result was a Web client that beta testers weren't happy with.
The main complaint was that it was just too slow. The new Windows Live Mail was designed to feel more like a desktop program than a traditional Web page. However, to 'create' this new feel, a Web application such as Windows Live Mail has to download a significant chunk of code before it can open a single message. This can take a few seconds with a broadband connection, but the experience dial-up users have is horrendous. When traveling I've had to use dial-up on occasion, and you just couldn't get your mail to display in any reasonable time. Many hotmail users (according to research, around 30 percent), particularly outside of the US still use dial-up for their Internet access.
To overcome this, Microsoft focused on the development of a 'classic' mode, which looks & feels more like the traditional Web page, and doesn't require the code-download that the full version requires.
The problem Microsoft faces is that the old Hotmail was always seen as an easy mail solution for the technology challenged, and Microsoft now has to find ways to keep these users happy. This is also reflected in the name change. Microsoft had wanted to rename Hotmail to Windows Live Mail, but after user feedback, the 'Hotmail' moniker was re-established so the new name is now Windows Live Hotmail.
Windows Live Mail
Microsoft is also working on a new Windows program, Windows Live Mail (formerly Windows Live Mail desktop). Windows Live Mail will run on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista. What is more, Windows Live Mail will be a successor to Outlook Express and Windows Mail on Windows Vista. According to Paul Major, Director of Windows Live Hotmail, in the future Windows Live Mail will be the only supported free email client, so only a few months after Windows Vista was released the mail client in Vista is set to be replaced. So to cap it off: what was Windows Live Mail is now Windows Live Hotmail, and Windows Live Mail desktop is now Windows Live Mail. Outlook Express and (Vista's) Windows Mail are being phased out. Got it?
According to reports, Windows Live Mail will feature contextual advertising tied to the contents of users' e-mail, would be interesting to see how that goes down with users. Windows Live Mail seems to be driven by a desire to get more income from advertising, something hinted on by Bill Gates this week in a speech before Microsoft advertising customers.
Microsoft expects a first beta of Windows Live Mail to be available in a few weeks from the Windows Live Beta's Web site.
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In the past two weeks, Microsoft issued a number of updates for Windows Vista: