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Windows Live Mail (beta): Hotmail spruced up

Microsoft is spending billions to spruce up its web based service operations and all the web services are being now brought under the banner of 'Live'. And to counter the Google's onslaught that started with mail (GMail) and is now directly challenging MS Office applications with Google Calendar, Google Spreadsheets and Writely (online word processor), Microsoft is going to push Live brand with great aggression.

So our good ol' Hotmail is now being converted to Windows Live Mail with a whopping 2GB mail box and 10 MB attachment size. And thankfully size is not the only thing that make it a much improved version of Hotmail.

The mail box looks more like Outlook now, as the mail can be read with a single click in a third pane which can be put below the mail list or right to it or just turned of. This feature would be familiar to users of new Rediffmail in which mail can be previewed below the mail list contents. But flexibility in positioning the pane makes it better.

The mails can be dragged and dropped in folders, again like rediffmail. Files can be attached faster and in much like GMail way, write while the file is attached. Addresses are prompted as you type them, a standard feature in almost all the mail services now. I was shocked that Hotmail doesn't have it.

You can add picture of your contacts now, something that is not seen anywhere else at present. This seems to be an integration with Live Spaces (again MSN Spaces is being carried forward)

The skin color can be changed but I suggest you don't do it as the optional colors are horrible! You can choose from a number of languages for your account if you don't want English. I chose Francaise as my default language and now my french has improved a lot :)

Message composition has a new feature. You can insert a 'Search Link' on any word or phrase and when clicked a new MSN Search page with the given word/phrase as query.

I have not said anything about in-built Outlook-like shareable calendar. But almost everyone gives a shareable calendar.

All in all the new Live Mail is another attempt of MS playing catch up with others. The best thing is that at least now it is as lucrative as others, if not more. We will have to see what more services MS is launching and how Live Mail fits in this scheme


Vaibhav said…
You know, some years back for seeing the cricket score, I try to open a site ... and some message I get tht this site is reserved :)

Mailbox design are I guess one of the most competitive field these days and yahoo is too back !

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