Microsoft began to rollout the new Windows Live Hotmail yesterday to customers worldwide. Hotmail mail accounts are stored on cluster servers that will get updated one at a time which means that some users will already be able to experience the new Windows Live Hotmail while others have to wait until their cluster gets migrated to the new version of the service.
The new Hotmail project started with an analysis of today's email usage and how email providers catered to that. Microsoft discovered three major aspects that have changed over the past years:
Take back your inbox
The new Windows Live Hotmail categorizes emails by source. Hotmail Highlights sorts emails received from contacts, social updates and flagged emails directly after logging in. This feature is not only available for the Hotmail inbox but also those from other email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail Plus or AOL if integrated into Hotmail.
Filters are available in the inbox as well to only display emails from contacts, social updates, groups or everything else.
Sweep is a new option in the Hotmail inbox that can be used to automatically take care of emails that Hotmail classifies as graymail. Graymail is described as legitimate mail that the user agreed to receive in the past but that is no longer needed or wanted.
Sweep can be used to automatically move or delete graymail from the Hotmail inbox. It is possible to configure Hotmail to sweep messages automatically. It will be interesting to see how good this sweep service really especially if it will produce false positives.
Another new feature is Hotmail Active View which enables automatic previews of photo attachments including a slide-show option for viewing multiple photo attachments.
The preview works even for photos that are shared through links on sites like Flickr and SmugMug.
Attachment limits have been raised allowing users to share up to 200 photos and documents, each up to a size of 50 Megabytes which means it is possible to attach up to 10 Gigabytes of data per message. Attachments are stored on Windows Live Skydrive.
Documents can be viewed directly in Office Web Apps which means it is no longer necessary to save them to the local computer first to open them in a desktop document viewer. This feature is first only available to customers in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland.
Previews and additional information are offered for other types of email as well from videos to social updates and shipping information.
Hotmail now supports push email on the mobile phone. It seems to be limited to Windows Mobile phones as it requires Exchange ActiveSync.
There is a lot more to explore. Hotmail now offers full-session SSL, enhanced account protection, multiple email accounts and contact management features. We keep you posted
The Hotmail Preview website gives an outlook of what users can expect from the new Hotmail. The website requires Microsoft Silverlight though.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.