With the next iteration of its email service, Microsoft has set to re-invent Hotmail
. Delivering what is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive overhauling to Windows Live Hotmail in the past four years, the Redmond company outlined the changes coming, including the evolution of the inbox, new productivity and sharing enhancements, and fresh synchronization capabilities. The video embedded at the bottom of this article offers an insight into Windows Live Wave 4, from Microsoft’s perspective. Dick Craddock
, group program manager for Windows Live Hotmail, did not offer a specific release deadline for the new Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4. However, as it is generally the case, updates to the email service are not served to users in the same manner as desktop solutions, for example. Instead, refreshes, and major upgrades, as well as new versions are rolled out gradually. This is what will happen to Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4, with the roll-out planned for debut in the next few weeks.
“With the new Hotmail, we’ve introduced practical innovations to help people manage the clutter and regain control of their inboxes – efficiently. What's more, you can manage clutter not only in your Hotmail inbox, but also in your inboxes from other email services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail Plus, or AOL, all from within Hotmail,” Craddock said.
Hotmail Wave 4 integrates deeply with a number of Cloud offerings, with an emphasis on social networking, sharing and collaboration services. After the latest upgrade, Hotmail will filter emails, and separate them in accordance with their source. New messages from friends and contacts are highlighted separately from social updates, and from calendar entries. Hotmail Wave 4 is capable of centralizing updates from no less than 70 social networks including Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
“Once in your inbox, cut through the clutter by clicking just once to see all the mail from your contacts, or all of your social network updates (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.), or mail from the group mailing lists you belong to. You can also click once to see all messages that have links to photos or photos attached, or all messages that have Office documents attached, or shipping updates, or messages you’ve flagged,” Craddock added.
Hotmail Wave 4 comes with a new Sweep option designed to enable users to get rid of graymail, unwanted messages that don’t really qualify for spam. While the virtual broom can be used manually, Hotmail also permits customers to automate the tool, but without the need to create complex rules.
Via Hotmail Active View, the service takes a message beyond the actual test, streamlining functionality such as previewing photos, and even viewing slideshows of attached images. At the same time, due to the integration with services including Flickr and SmugMug, these examples of functionality are also valid for links from online destinations as those mentioned above.
“For sharing photos, we’ve gone a step further and helped to break through the limits of past email. Increasingly, photos are larger and larger, and yet sending big email
attachments can clog the inboxes of your friends and family. 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,” Craddock explained.
With the advent of Wave 4, it is not just Windows Live SkyDrive that integrates Office Web Apps, but also Hotmail. Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4 plays nice with the Cloud-based version of Office 2010, allowing users to view and edit Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) documents right in their inbox. A single email can contain as much as 200 documents, each no larger than 50 MB in size.
“With the new Hotmail, you can attach an Office document to an email and have it stored on SkyDrive. Hotmail then sends the document via SkyDrive, so that you – and the people you send it to – can access it from anywhere regardless of whether they use a PC or Mac, have Office installed, use Hotmail or don't, or have smaller attachment limitations than the 10 GB per message allowed by Hotmail. No more worrying about whether that document
is stored on the computer you have with you, the computer you use at the library at your office, in your dorm room, or elsewhere,” Craddock stated.
Exchange ActiveSync is currently available on over 300 million phones, according to Microsoft, and the new Windows Live Hotmail enables users to make the best of their mobile devices. Hotmail Wave 4 comes with push capabilities for smartphones, allowing for the synchronization of the calendar, contacts, and tasks.