Today Microsoft released new Windows Live Hotmail to some 280 million users. Microsoft hopes to pose a serious challenge to Google and Yahoo!’s offering with WLH. Like Yahoo! Microsoft has tried to bridge the gap between a desktop email client and their web email interface. WLH retains the basic three column system present in previous versions (you can change the arrangement of the reading panes). But, don’t be fooled by looks. Under the hood WLH sports several new features.
A quick look at the new features –
Now you get 2 GB of storage for free.
WLH provides you nine skins to choose from.
Like in Gmail you can send and receive email from other email accounts.
Available in 32 Languages. Surprisingly no Indian language is supported.
AJAX has been liberally used. You don’t need to use refresh to view new messages.
A security bar which turns yellow or red upon depending upon the suspiciousness of the emails. The only time the security bar wasn’t yellow, was when I was opening email from Microsoft or my contacts.
A check-box appears beside every email on hovering. This is a very nice touch.
If you use Internet Explorer then you can play mp3 and wav files attached to emails using in-line media player.
WLH displays a pop-up notification when your contacts come online and gives you the option to chat with them using Windows Live Messenger.
While composing new messages the in-line spell checker automatically underlines spelling mistakes. WLH also allows you to do basic operations like resize and rotate on image files before sending them. However, these features don’t seem to work with Firefox.
One feature that is missing, but should be present is the ability to preview Microsoft office documents and spreadsheets.
Another disappointment is lack of support for Opera browser. Opera users would have to use the classic version. And this raises the question. Why didn’t they use Silverlight? There couldnt have been a better way to demonstrate it’s potential, and also it would have meant compatibility with Opera.
Although WLH still lacks features like chat integration, I must say that I am quite impressed with WLH. Its very much usable, and is quite responsive. I still believe Gmail is the best, but I certainly prefer WLH to the new Yahoo! mail. Below is a quick tour of WLH (video).
What is your take on WLH? Where do you think it stands when compared to Gmail and Yahoo! Mail?