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May 7, 2007

Windows Live Hotmail Launches

After more than a year of testing, Microsoft launches a new version of its free webmail application Hotmail. While initially the name was Windows Live Mail and the intention was to bring Outlook's interface online, Microsoft couldn't make this radical change compelling for its user base and had to make a lot of compromises.

First, the name was changed to Windows Live Hotmail. Then the Outlook-ish interface, similar to the one from Yahoo Mail Beta, is only an option. By default, Windows Live Hotmail has a classic interface that doesn't uses AJAX. "The full version has drag-and-drop functionality, right-click menus, and a reading pane to help you view e-mail quickly. The classic version uses check boxes and doesn't have a reading pane."

CNet reports that the change was necessary because "the program was too slow to load, too different and, well, just not like the old Hotmail it was intended to replace. It was a painful realization for the more than 100 managers and developers on the project. In banking on a snazzy Web 2.0 application to try to catch up to rivals Yahoo and Google, Microsoft had dramatically overshot its audience."

The classic interface is closer to Gmail, although it still uses folders, doesn't have threads and there are a lot of annoying usability issues like the weird position of the "Send" button.

Another bad choice is the "Today" panel that greets you when you open Windows Live Mail. Instead of seeing your inbox, you get the chance to read popular news and articles from MSN. CNet offers a possible explanation for this:

"If you open Windows Live Hotmail and notice that your first message doesn't automatically open in the preview pane, you can blame Initially, Microsoft figured people would like to see their first message. But, it turns out that many people don't necessarily want their co-workers or anyone else to see that Victoria's Secret special offer or the update from their online-dating service."

Microsoft continues to show little respect for its users by not adding support for POP3 or IMAP. Instead, they want to push Windows Live Mail Desktop that displays text ads in a Gmail fashion and an "Outlook connector software that will enable anyone with a copy of Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 to use the software to access Windows Live Hotmail messages and contacts".


  1. As disappointing as Google has been lately, I'm awfully glad I'm not suffering Microsoft in 2007.

  2. I've been seeing a lot of blog posts and commentary lately from Microsoft employees going on and on about how the company has changed, is becoming more open, etc. Now we can officially call BS on all that propaganda as they have passed up (yet again) an opportunity to use one of the worlds oldest standard protocols in favor of something that will only work with Microsoft products.

    The words from brainwashed employees are just whispers compared to the shouts from product announcements that this company hasn't changed, and in all likelyhood is incapable of changing.

    Thanks Microsoft for showing your true colors once again.

    Next up, the disaster that is Silverlake: still trying to fragment the Internet rather than engage in true innovation.

  3. I tried Live and it sucked. Sucked alot of memory (RAM), and it just didn't respond to my commands fast enough. Similarly, Yahoo! Mail Beta is nearly as slow and sluggish as Windows Live is. Neither can compare to GMail.

  4. And another thing:
    IE7 is buggy as hell! It simply will not block pop-ups!!! I've tried tweaking the settings, but I still get the dreaded pop-ups, and I refuse to use it.

  5. I agree with "o"maker. When live is in one Firefox tab, the application needs more RAM and other times Windows Live Hotmail keeps loading and loading for hours. And when it keeps on loading, the mouse cursor disappears in the Firefox browser, sometimes.

    Anyway, it's better than the previous version but not as good as Gmail though.

  6. Internet WatcherMay 8, 2007 at 11:30 AM

    In Yahoo Mail, not all accounts has the POP and foward e-mail function. In, you can use POP3 and forward. In .com, you can't at all.

    Therefore, I can't forward all new e-mails received by my girlfriend to Gmail. Yahoo Mail sucks a lot nowadays, especially the new version.

  7. There are pro's and con's to all webmail programs. That spoken, GMail even with its tiny market share remains the webmail of choice. The market share will now come to GMail because invitations are no longer needed. And even GMail running Firefox needs tweaking to make it a truly secure program, like the customizegoogle dot com add-on. I've tried the new Yahoo as well as the Windows Live Hotmail to which Windows now defaults as an emailer unless you alter Windows to default to GMail, and the Yahoo and Hotmail are both tarted up versions of the SOSDD. I'm wondering when Redmond will live up to all of their recent brags to join the rest of the world in Web 2.0 app's? By doing so in actions not in words, it'll kinda put them out of business lol.

  8. Who thinks up this crap regarding the updates? The old system did not have this ad window on the right side of the screen when you write e-mails. I don't need this crap, and you don't offer a way to get rid of it. I suggest you get rid of the guy who thinks this was a great idea!