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May 18, 2010

The New Hotmail Challenges Gmail

Hotmail, Microsoft's webmail service, has improved a lot in the past two years. Hotmail is now a modern web application that no longer traps users's data and focuses on important things like speed, usability, fighting spam and integrating with other communication services.

The latest Hotmail update, that will be released as part of Windows Live Wave 4, tries to show that Microsoft finally managed to develop a better email service than Gmail and, in many ways, succeeds.

Hotmail improved its spam detection algorithms and it's now able to tweak some parameters based on your actions. Hotmail can now flag messages as spam even after you've received them.

Another interesting improvement is that Hotmail categorizes messages, so you can quickly find the messages from your contacts, messages from mailing lists or notifications from social networks.

Hotmail no longer has limitations for email storage and the main reason is that large attachments can be stored in Windows Live SkyDrive. "With Hotmail, we've combined the simplicity of sending photos through email with the power of Windows Live SkyDrive so that you can send up to 200 photos, each up to 50 MB in size, all in a single email. You can send all your vacation photos at once without worrying about attachment limits," explains Microsoft. This is an important feature that's missing from Gmail and it's surprising that you can't upload photos to Picasa Web Albums or upload documents to Google Docs directly from Gmail.

Microsoft also integrated Hotmail with Office Web Apps, so that documents can be previewed and edited online, without having to install an office suite. Now that attachments are stored in a single place, the total attachment limit for a message is 10 GB, while Gmail offers about 7 GB of storage for all your messages.

Hotmail added many of the features that used to be available only in Gmail: conversation view, full session SSL, watching YouTube videos inline, but Microsoft managed to make some improvements. The active view feature doesn't work only for YouTube, it's enabled for many other sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), so you can accept invitations or reply to a Twitter message directly from Hotmail. There's also a feature that lets you create a single-use password for signing in on public computers.

Google has a lot to do to catch up with the new Hotmail, but that's a good thing. Competition is what makes products better.





51 comments:

  1. unlimited.. huh? So you won't be upset when I upload a terrabyte of 50mb rar files?

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  2. hotmail still sucks. not comparable to gmail

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  3. competition is definitely good.
    Tried the new hotmail, getting to the settings was a bit of pain. And particularly, I didn't like the annoying advertisements. Maybe I am used to gmail, but that's where the simplicity lies.

    @Vash it's for needy not greedy ;-)

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  4. I agree with Aesahaettr... gmail is the best.... just space issues will never make me change it to hot

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  5. OK, the attachment system looks really smart and useful, and we're all wating for the gdrive to happen. But hotmail being better than gmail? I don't think so.

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  6. I guess nobody cares about the storage. The only thing that is better I think is the attachement limit per message.

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  7. @taty not just the space, if you look at the video posted here, there are several neat features. Definitely a competition for Google and that is good for the community in large.

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  8. Some of theee implementations are definitely nice. Still, speaking to functionality:
    - I think you can use Google Docs in a similar fashion to SkyDrive, so the benefit there seems minimal.
    - You can set Gmail filters to categorize your messages ... I know I do.
    - Why would I want to "retroactively" have SPAM flagged that's in my inbox? Improve the algorithm & catch it up front, and let users report what remains - I believe that's generally regarded as the most accurate model.

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  9. Lots of closed minds here. hotmail has obviously made great improvements and gmail needs to catch up. Not that I'm leaving my gmail address for hotmail, but I hope Google takes a good hard look at what Microsoft has done with hotmail, and offers me the same features.

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  10. I watched the video. She edits a document she _emailed herself_? Wow. Way to promote the 90s.

    Naver.com used a similar method with photos when I was in Korea. It always seemed really smart to me. I've proposed to Google that photos I receive as attachment should automatically appear in Picasaweb in an "attachments" album. Similar for documents and Docs. Oh, and "attaching" Picasaweb photos/albums and Google Docs from the GMail interface. Google doesn't appear to be jumping on that idea.

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  11. I wonder how many of the "Hotmail sucks" comments are just based on the service being a Microsoft service? I'm a Gmail user, and love it, but anyone with an unbiased opinion can see that the new features in Hotmail might be/are better than Gmail's.

    One feature of Hotmail that, as a Gmail user, I'm actually jealous of, is Quick Add, there's nothing like it in Gmail. Yeah Gmail has the Web Search lab, but it would be insult to Hotmail's Quick Add to compare Gmail's version to it.

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  12. does it finally support pop3/imap? no...

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  13. Nice... it was time Hotmail did a catch up! Guess now it's Google's turn to do it! Not only the limit size in attachments, but integrating all the attachments in one online location that should be accessible from picasa, docs, gmail, etc...

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  14. It supports POP, but not IMAP. I'm not saying that Hotmail is perfect, but it has improved a lot and some of the new features should've been added by Google a long time ago.

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  15. wow forwarding is on!!! microsoft is dead!

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  16. IMAP is the missing piece. I am moving away from hotmail because I can't delete messages on the server from my phone. All my other accounts work and personal let me do this.

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  17. You aren't being totally accurate regarding Gmail uploads. Labs has a feature that allows you to create a Google Doc from any e-mail, it's not called 'uploading', but obviously has the same functionality. As for photos - Picasa kills just about anything else in terms of features etc. You can easily download all attachments with a single click, Picasa automatically grabs them from your disk and even syncs them with Web Albums, if you so choose, so that's also covered well.

    Larger space is nice, but you can buy 25GB from Google for $5/yr... not even worth discussing this as some special feature. Hotmail always sucked compared to Gmail, now they're finally trying to get it closer and of course being this late in the game of catchup - they came up with some nice improvements, but I wouldn't count the boys & girls at Gmail out just yet. Google proved itself over and over that they can play this game & win, even with Microsoft.

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  18. I think the majority of those complaining about the new HotMail are those who were curious to see what Microsoft's response to Gmail finally is after all of these years... only to find HotMail still doesn't have IMAP support... still looks like an archaic Windows 3.1 application... still has distracting gaudy animated banner ads... still has lots of spam which leaks through... etc...

    So, the biggest complaint is really "Great moves, Hotmail... great progress... but after all of this time, you are still years behind."

    This call for Google to "catch up" would be like me sticking a really nice side view mirror onto a sheet of paper, then telling the auto manufacturers to "catch up" to my piece of paper with the much nicer side view mirror. Taken as a whole, Gmail is still light-years ahead of Hotmail, even if Hotmail has a few bullet points which could be declared higher in figures than the same bullet points of Gmail's... but ultimately, the writing has already been on the wall for some time that these bullet points of Gmail's are already on the move. Gmail has rolled out new features and new updates regularly for years, and it has taken Hotmail this long to have an even remotely worthwhile announcement? Let me guess... in 3 years, they'll announce IMAP support? C'mon... make some real moves, Hotmail.

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  19. Hmm... Wasn't their last update supposed to do the same thing in relation to battling Goog?

    I do like the unlimited aspect. I guess I'll have to check out my old hotmail account now.

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  20. certainly better than yahoo mail.paradoxical the weakest mail service, is the most used.

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  21. I use hotmail every so often. I have to say it's made huge strides over the past year or two. But that doesn't excuse getting force-fed spam from my OWN e-mail provider, that I can't block.

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  22. I will alwyas with Gmail. Simple, fast and freindly. I don't care about huge space. I need speed and simplicity. I also like fastmail.fm, but there is no any blog or site making service. So I am in love with Gmail.

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  23. I still hate Hotmail, couldn't switch to it yet (both the squished interface and the image ads are a pain; plus, labels are a lot better than folders).
    However, I hope Microsoft's Docs service will make Google fix its Documents service (make it more compatible and less buggy).

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  24. I don't have an account on hot mail yet, but now i will register..

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  25. No matter whatever hotmail says, im a big fan of Gmail.

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  26. Personally I am a GMail fan, but I do also see the benefits of Hotmail.

    Indeed some of my newbie friends for whom I am the go-to-guy have had Hotmail set up for them by me as it is recognisable.

    Undoubtedly however Hotmail development has to some extent been driven by Gmail and we do now, likewise, wait to see how Gmail responds. There are many areas where it desperately needs improvement (contact management for a start!) so hopefully this big new upgrade to the free MS "cloud" services & Hotmail will drive some exciting improvement with Gmail.

    Good times for everyone!

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  27. As someone who watches the e-mail space very closely as part of my job, these changes to Hotmail are huge. In some ways they catch up to what Gmail offers, in other ways they don't catch up, and in still other ways they surpass Gmail.

    Keep in mind that Hotmail is currently the dominant Web mail service. Microsoft Office is overwhelmingly the dominant office suite. This will keep many of their existing consumer customers, attract new consumer customers, and makes them a viable player in SAAS e-mail/document/productivity among paying corporate and business customers, arguably more viable than Google Apps given the fidelity and integration of online/offline Microsoft Office. Curious what pricing of the SAAS corporate version will be per seat.

    When we all get the chance to try it the new Hotmail firsthand (it launches this summer) and experience what it has to offer, then I think we'll really understand the changes to Hotmail. Right now we can only read about these changes.

    Lots of changes to pick out, but their integration with other social networks is significant. Microsoft isn't focusing on building their own social network, and their giving their users access within the inbox (and interacting within messages themselves, currently almost unheard of in e-mail) to the social networks that matter to them.

    For the record, I'm a Gmail fan who uses Gmail for my primary accounts. I particularly like the scripting community (Greasemonkey, browser extensions, etc.) that surrounds Gmail, extending Gmail's functionality beyond what Google offers standard and in labs.

    It will be telling if a scripting community develops around Hotmail after the launch this summer.

    Re: IMAP, it is a Hotmail weakness. However, Microsoft's protocol also allows grabbing contacts and calendar data, something IMAP does not provide. This will be increasingly in demand by both consumers and corporate customers.

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  28. GMail is lite and light. Hotmail is a Fat Beautiful Woman

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  29. Hotmail doesnt work. It loses ur password if yo dont login for 15 days, and loses all, i mean 'all' the emails, if you dont login for 15 days !!! It is to say ur emails are worth trash, if yo didnt access ur mailbox !!! duh.. wake up

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  30. Why would anyone sign up to Hotmail. It's rubbish and full of spam. My old account keeps sending out spam to people. I can't even close it because of a bug on Microsoft's web pages...!

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  31. Uhm, for the record, Gmail doesn't have threaded conversation, it has 'flat conversation'. You need pine or mutt to view a real threaded conversation. Gmail just orders them as they come in.

    That being said, Gmail still handles conversations the best, perhaps because they are not threaded.

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  32. I've used Hotmail for years and with each new improvement that Microsoft makes to Hotmail, it confirms exactly why I stay with Hotmail. With reference to 'Junk' mail, I have never an an issue with 'Junk' mail, primarily because, I don't use my Hotmail account for signing up for things on the Internet.

    In addition to all the new features being added to the New Windows Live Hotmail, it is worth noting that Microsoft is doing away with page footers attached to outbound messages providing for cleaner looking emails.

    Microsoft Hotmail has come a long way since its inception in 1996 and, to that end, kudos to Microsoft for a job well done!

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  33. I've had Hotmail for years and I'm finally going to switch either to Yahoo or to gmail. Hotmail will not let me delete junk mail. When I check the boxes and try to junk it I get a message in the bottom left corner that says loading and after about two minutes the loading message disappears and my junk mail that I have highlighted to get rid of is still there. I have to go through this process three to four times before hotmail finally deletes the junk mail into the junk mail folder. The loading message occasionally pops up just when I'm deleting regular mail and again I have to wait minutes, keep highlighting until it finally deletes it. My husband's hotmail account has ALWAYS had this problem (for years) but my account didn't up until about 3-4 months ago. I'm done with hotmail.

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  34. All of you GMail & Yahoo fans, wake up, it dosent matter what u geeks think, technology is to make life and tasks simpler and Microsoft understands this very well, being simple is no joke, Hell with you Microsoft bashers, you're not even next to close of Hotmail. Yahoo Sucks! GMail Sucks more. Period.

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  35. I agree with the above comment, though I'm a techie myself, Microsoft products are the best as far as simplicity is concerned. Microsoft was King when they didn't care (Vista), now that they are focussed, does anyone of you thinks that they'll let loose the market share that they have. Microsoft works best under pressure, they have demonstrated it (Windows 7), where was the anti Microsoft army when Vista failed, nobody came up with the good product to beat MS, Microsoft is King of Kings, whether anybody likes it or not.

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  36. i hate the new hotmail
    the new homepages of msn, hotmail, google, youtube, and metrolyrics should die in a hole

    we never asked for these changes
    so dont do them u retarded designers

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  37. whenever i sign into my "new" hotmail, my msn signs in automatically.... and i dont want that.. does anyone have that problem?

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  38. I have no lost all my photos in previous emails...does anyone know how to get them back??

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  39. improvements????????? WHAT IMPROVEMENTS????????? This "new" hotmail is just one stupid mistake over another. Its wayyyy slow, the font is not only ugly, its also harder, way harder to read. the searchoptions still have the same stupideness as before, if I search for a specific word in the subjectfield, I get many results where this word is not even in the subject.
    And who are you to decide if I want my mail devided in "social updates" and "groups"??? Its confusing, this new view coz theres way to much useless stuff cluttering it. If I use a reading pane and I scroll just a tiny bit too fast my email bounches back to the top. VERY irritating.
    The so called "improvements" are everything but that, and the faults that were there before are not taken care of. Competing with gmail??? hahaha right! Gmil has one huge disadvantage, you cannot sort all of ur emails based on the sender, and therefor I cannot use it. But otherwise it looks like gmail understands the concept of email and hotmail somewhere along the line, lost that insight completely. And believe me....with over 600 emails a day, I do have a huge problem. Thanx so much Mickysoft, as usual!!

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  40. I hate Hotmail SO much now. Bloody documents won't even open. It's about as user-friendly as a spider. :(

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  41. suddenly, hotmail won't allow me to upload photos. it's been great in the past, and the new version was great too - until yesterday. what's the matter? Any help - i loved this feature

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  42. Hi... who are these anonymous coverups here whose only aim is to ditch my "Sweet New Hotmail". I do have a gmail account. But of late I started using Hotmail and found to my surprise the power of Microsoft blasting like anything. I love the new sleek looks providing a even neater view. The wave is getting stronger now that Hotmail has made available pop3 services and i hope IMAP soon to be offered. Other associated services are so easily accessible without any confusion at all. The new mobile alert is very useful although the service is with Google already. But going by these expansions, in the coming days as part of Microsoft's new efforts they will definitely beat Google. Remember that Hotmail still has largest user base. These latest improvements will only attract new as well as those ex patriot users of it. THUMP UP FOR MICROSOFT!!!!

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  43. I absolutely hate hotmail now. You now have to use their programs to open any attachments, no choice!! They have so much on their page than there is little room for an actual email. It’s just ridiculous.
    On the other hand, Google spies and records everything you do.

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  44. ActiveView does not allow me to download photos AS PHOTOS from my email. Considering my business relies heavily on downloading photos from email, Microsoft has really complicated my life. Why is it so difficult for them to offer both the original download option - and the slide show?
    Lately, it seems Microsoft is more intent on turning the computer into a toy for the social networking crowd - and less a tool for business and industry.

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  45. WHY HOTMAIL SUCKS

    My wife’s hotmail account was hijacked several days ago. If you expect Microsoft to help get your hijacked hotmail account back via their Recovery Center, you are wasting your time. My advice is to dump your hotmail account. I gave M$ everything piece of information I have that might help recover the account to no avail. I even offered to use my credit card to purchase the paid version of hotmail for MY hotmail account to prove who I am. I told them that I am an MSDN subscriber and even sent them an email from my work email address, and much more, but M$ would not help me. I bet if I was Bill Gates, I would get the account back. In summary, M$ service sucks.

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  46. Wow a lot of haters on here. I have had Yahoo mail for years, and recently decided to switch (the lack of a calendar that can work with iCal being the mail reason). I spent a week with gmail and a week with the new hotmail. Hotmail got the nod for the following reasons:

    It has a fully functional client - Old fashioned, but I actually prefer my mail in a client application, things just work better. Live Mail synchronises seamlessly with my hotmail account. It also renders imap unnecessary (for me anyway). POP access for anything really doesn't get it done, no sent items, no folders.

    I don't like the fact that gmail doesn't have folders - I know you are supposed to organize everything with tags in gmail but it doesn't work for me. I also think the tags make the imap integration a bit clunky.

    Otherwise I've had no problems with spam, all seems to be working well. Very happy with Hotmail.

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  47. When I register with a website that asks me to give an email so they may send me a confirmation email, hotmail NEVER gets the emails. If i then enter my gmail address, it always receives them promptly. Just one more reason Hotmail is absolute shit..

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  48. The statements made here by hotmail, is all BULL SHIT, I have hotmail now, but no longer......

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  49. Yeah.. I have both and they are really competing with a lot of things now.. Both goth really cool graphics and I love both of them. I just have to check out my msn account a lot because I also use it for paypal. nice comments though! awesome blog too!
    Hotmail

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  50. I've used Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail quite a bit over the years so here's my breakdown of some of the advantages/disadvantages.

    Gmail
    1. People say it's fast and I agree that it is. Is it so much faster than yahoo or hotmail that I get all tingly? No.

    2. No message preview pane. This seems to be a major issue for gmail. I don't want to have to open an email to get a quick look which then takes over my entire screen.

    3. It has good integration to my android phone. So far it's the only mail app that will clear the new mail icon from my phone when I read the email through my pc.

    4. Labels are just silly. It's like putting 1 email in multiple folders. Multiple personality disorder for my emails is all it is.

    5. The interface looks like it was designed as a high school project. Join the 21st century Google.

    6. I've used Gmail for the past 1.5 years because of the great android phone integration but thanks to yahoo and hotmail having activesync I'm not tied to gmail any longer.

    7. Great spam filtering

    8. Inbox refresh for new mail is almost instant


    Yahoo
    1. In my opinion it has the best user interface out of the 3.

    2. Spam filtering is probably the worst out of the 3.

    3. When using an alternate "from" address it does not add the "On behalf of" which is really nice.

    4. Multi tab .. This is great.

    5. Major downfall and the reason I don't use yahoo any longer. They only refresh the inbox every 10 minutes so I constantly find myself clicking the inbox refresh button which annoys me.

    Hotmail
    1. 2nd best user interface next to Yahoo.

    2. No multi tab which I miss.

    3. Excellent spam filtering

    4. The alternate from address appends "on behalf of" which I hate.

    5. New mail in the inbox refreshes and shows you the email absolutely instantly. This was my deciding factor of using hotmail.


    In the end I'd like to use Yahoo because I love the interface. But because of the instant inbox refresh and spam filtering I choose to use Hotmail.

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