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April 2, 2006

Windows Live Mail Review

Ok, this is not a joke. No more April Fool's Day pranks. This a serious review for Windows Live Mail Beta, an innovative webmail system from Microsoft, that wants to replace the good old Hotmail.

But how can you be serious when you get this? Look closely, click on the image to enlarge it. This is Microsoft's Gmail-killer.

Ok, so the interface is messed up, the navigation system is not built with text links, or images, there's just some text that has onclick events, so when you go to the mouse over the text, the cursor doesn't change.

You can barely see your mail, the advertising is very close to the scrollbar (like the new Yahoo Mail) and sometimes comes on top of your content, the mail search doesn't work, the rich-text editor has flaws (you can't change the font size).

Of course, you have 2 GB mail space and a Ajax-based interface. But who cares when you actually can't work with this pre-alpha mail client. Fortunately, you have the option to switch to the classic interface and keep the 2 GB.

I tested Windows Live Mail on Windows XP with Internet Explorer SP2. If you try to open it with Firefox, you'll get an unfriendly message and then you'll have to select the classic view, because, as you know, Firefox is not powerful enough to render Windows Live Mail correctly.

To see for yourself, get an invitation from

Let's see my ratings:
Yahoo Mail Beta: 7/10
Gmail rating: 8.5/10
Windows Live Mail Beta: 4/10

Yahoo Mail Beta Review
The new Yahoo Mail will have obtrusive ads
5 fast ways to check your Gmail account

Update: I refreshed IE a couple of times and the interface seemed better, but what if I resize the page?


  1. I've been using WLMail for the past 3 months and have experienced none of the problems that you are mentioning. I agree that they should do a better job of notifying the user when they are hovering above a link, but as far as everything it resizes fine for me and everything appears.

  2. Microsoft are, yet again, trying to win a war by pumping money into unimaginative minds. Gmail was there first, Gmail won first, and Gmail deserves it. Live Mail deserves nothing, not even recognition.

  3. I certainly prefer Gmail, its much nicer in interface and usability but Microsoft have made an effort. Its a bit like thier upcoming IE7. Can't beat Firefox but its more of a serious contender than IE6 was.

    I have not had many problems with Windows Live Mail and it is enouraging that it now works with Firefox as well. Shame that neither GMail or Windows Live Mail fully support Opera (although GMail is nearly there with Opera support)

  4. I'm using Windows Live mail for a couple of months now. Interface is matter of taste, but I do like the clean white interface. The irritating banner on the right of the message is gone now. That's better. The Rich text editor is working reasonable but the option to switch to a Plain text editor is a lack. Live mail is build with Ajax, cool, but very slow. I'm always working with good internet connections so that's not the problem. You can easily switch to classic mode, but some important options (like a print option) are omitted then. They have build in some intelligent things, like auto-complete an email address. Very nice, but not always working so well. For the business I'm working with Outlook Webmail, witch is working really fine. The programmers of outlook and live-mail should talk a little bit more together.. I think MS is doing some good things, with, Live mail, live search etc. but it's not ready for the big audience jet.

  5. I could understand your review if it was a final product but I've just recently started using The beta and you must be using an extremely Early version. Of course its an BETA I.E not finished yet most beta's aren't very good thats like expecting to have the final product.

    The beta i'm using is pretty cool only problem i've had is geting outlook express to link up with it and get the settings for my main email account from that, and then geting gmail to work with it.

  6. You know, the date isn't placed above the title without a reason. This post is from April.

    I didn't use Live Mail that much, but I can confirm it has evolved. But not enough to use it as a webmail solution. Gmail is much faster, cleaner and easier to use. And it also has POP3, so you can use it with any desktop client. Windows Live Mail can only be used with clients written by Microsoft.

    <<you must be using an extremely Early version.

    You can't use early versions with online apps. They're always up-to-date :)

  7. "Microsoft are, yet again, trying to win a war by pumping money into unimaginative minds. Gmail was there first, Gmail won first, and Gmail deserves it. Live Mail deserves nothing, not even recognition."

    Thank you "Anonymous" for wasting precious seconds of my life with your uninspired droolings. Perhaps you should invest in a splash-guard, since you obviously vomitted on the keyboard when you tried to say something worthwhile. In the future why not consider fact before fiction, and remember that Hotmail existed when Google was still a search engine that nobody used. Lets also remember that first by no means implies best. Atari was one of the first video game systems, General Electric black and white tube-based televisions came first and the Write brothers were the first to build an aircraft. However, all these firsts aside, I don't think anyone would contend that Atari still makes the best gaming system, that GE makes today's superior television, or that Boeing isn't leaps and bounds beyond anything the Write brothers could even have imagined. Technology gets better between version 1.0 and version 15.0. Technology gets better with competition. Technology stands to benefit from our curiousity and imagination. But the one thing that technology doesn't benefit from are closed minded fools who would rather use the first product than the best product.

  8. I can't believe that there is no plain text option - insane! Don't any of these people use mailing lists? Woohoo, lots of colours and fonts and styles, but no plain text. It's like something my Year 7 students would design.

  9. Reactions against the introduction of Windows 7 and Web-based Windows Live Mail, stripping out Windows Mail and Outlook Express, indicate that it is an abortive enterprise. Loyal Windows users are showing an understanding what the planning is all about. Windows 7 is a rip-off and appears to become a lethal close of Microsoft world dominance and a shift to Apple and Linux. Microsoft management is not only at the risk of making a fool of itself; their present Windows 7 introductory decision is suicidal policy.

  10. Windows Live mail would be great is they would change the crappy colors and greyed out fonts

  11. GMail is much faster in my opinion and better laid out. Give Microsoft a few years to sort it out and it will be as good as GMail now.

  12. I have never before encountered such a screwed up mess in a new and improved program. Nothing works well twice and often the first time. If this is progress, I fear the next "improvement". And when I attempt to post a comment on their comment line, I am told that my comment cannot be posted and to try again later. Are they screening what others will be allowed to read?

  13. More than three years after this post, Microsoft still has not perfected this program. I had it installed before. I had to reinstall Windows XP and all of a sudden Live Mail and Messenger will not install! After writing support and not getting an answer, I'm stuck! Argh!

  14. Personally I dont like the way it hijacks your email by opening with importing accounts, i wanted it for separate accounts, not for what i use windows mail for. just a bloody pain in the arse as it keeps getting stuck on importing

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