Open Thread: Could a Better Hotmail Tempt You Away from Gmail?

Microsoft will roll out a new version of Hotmail on Monday, according to VentureBeat. The new Hotmail is said to be aimed at taking on Gmail, incorporating message threading and tagging, improved mobile access and social network integration, all at speeds faster than ever. Sounds pretty good, but will it be enough to tempt users away from Gmail?

I imagine the reason Hotmail is suddenly receiving renewed attention is that Microsoft believes revamping a suite of web apps already familiar to users of its desktops products will help it better compete with Google Apps in the cloud (for more on the cloud, check out our Structure conference in June). Hotmail forms part of Windows Live, which will also incorporate the new Office Web Apps (themselves part of Office 2010). The apps are impressive and do look and feel much like their desktop versions.

I actually still have a Hotmail account from way back, which I only now use as a spam trap, as well as for the few friends who resolutely refuse to update their email address books with my more recent contact info. The service has improved quite a lot over the past couple of years — the interface is much nicer and there’s some new functionality (search actually works, for example). But Gmail, to which I switched in 2005, is simply a far better email client, with a better, faster interface and more storage (no more deleting emails because I’d run out of space!). And it consistently receives neat little tweaks to keep it ahead of the pack.

For my purposes, it’s probably too late for Hotmail to win me back. Given the pain that switching email addresses entails, I wouldn’t start using my Hotmail account seriously again unless this update made it far superior to Gmail. And frankly, I can’t see that happening, though I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

What about you, though? Do you still use Hotmail? Could improvements to Hotmail tempt you to change from Gmail?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Email: The Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated

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