Since I signed up for my first Hotmail account in 1997 (which I still have) I’ve been a total sucker for webmail. I’m still a sucker for web apps in general so whenever Microsoft does a complete overhaul of one of the world’s first, and most successful, webmail services it’s probably worth taking a look.
The first thing I noticed when going to login to Hotmail was that, once you’re logged in, it takes you straight to your inbox. They’ve gotten rid of that default news type landing page (which I think Yahoo Mail still uses) and gotten back to the basics. Email. If you’re a Hotmail user, that alone is reason to celebrate, but that’s just the gravy.
If you like Gmail’s threaded conversations then you’ll be a fan of Hotmail’s conversation view. The new Hotmail gives you the option to turn this on and off which is something Gmail doesn’t do. Personally, I don’t understand why all mail apps don’t offer conversation view, it’s a far better way to keep track of your email history.
Office Web Apps Integration:
Microsoft has integrated Office Web Apps and Skydrive into Hotmail. You can now edit documents and presentations right in Hotmail without even having to download them. Hotmail is also using Skydrive to store photos so you can attach and view large photos right in your email app.
Single Contact List:
This may be the coolest new feature in any webmail app out there. “The new Hotmail brings all your online contacts into one convenient place — even those from services like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. Send an email to anyone, and if you want to you can manage your contacts by creating categories such as Friends or Co-workers to easily organize your address book.”
Gmail started offering this late last year and it works great for iPhones and Blackberries. I suspect heavy Hotmail users will be just as happy as I was to start using this with their mobile devices.
There’s a lot more new features including the ability to flag, move and manage your emails intuitively based on who they’re from. In the end I have too much invested in gmail to move away now, but I can honestly say that I’m impressed at where Hotmail is headed. This update has been a long time coming and you can really see that Microsoft wanted to make significant, deep changes in hotmail and they have definitely done that. These aren’t minor, cosmetic changes.
But what do I know, all of these changes are live so go login to your old Hotmail account or go sign up for a new one and let me know what you think in the comments section.