57 Comments

Summary:

Microsoft will reportedly roll out a new version of Hotmail on Monday, one that incorporates message threading and tagging, improved mobile access and social network integration, all at speeds faster than ever. But will it be enough to tempt users 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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By Simon Mackie

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  1. Your story about assigning your Hotmail address as your spam trap is probably relevant to tens of millions of users. I’ve dumped very political contribution, low-rent web site registration, and my college development office into my Hotmail account. So the question becomes, will I get a new Hotmail address on a revived Hotmail after all 6 bajillion good names are taken? Not likely, and it shows another way that neglecting even a strong property can kill it.

  2. I really dislike hotmail’s UI, and there’s almost something ghetto about giving anyone your @hotmail.com address. I just use it for testing email campaigns for clients.

    As for abandoning Gmail, let ‘em do one more stupid thing like automatically integrating Buzz again, and I’m gone. Not sure where, but gone.

    1. It doesn’t have to be a @hotmail.com address. Nowadays, you will get a @live.com as domain address, which I think is sufficiently formal. However, you can stil opt for @hotmail.com if you want to.

      1. Good point, David.

      2. You can also use your personal domain name with Hotmail with Windows Live Custom Domains:http://domains.live.com.

  3. I tried gmail but not willing to migrate. I have set up gmail to forward the emails to my hotmail.
    I would certainly welcome the new hotmail interface.

  4. Suman Gandham Thursday, May 13, 2010

    No , I don’t think I will move away from gmail.

    Frankly I never used my hotmail even when there was no gmail and now moving back to hotmail after using gmail after using it for years is out of question :) .

  5. Aren’t these are the same guys that gave you only 2MB of email space before GMail came along?

    No way. I’m already tired of the Windows-live-login-everywhere-xbox-live-gamertag-is-also-your-zune-id crap.

    Sometimes, I don’t want the services I use to be integrated. I just want to f*cking use my Zune and not be asked share my music preferences with MSN buddies, XBOX friends and Bing cashback stores.

    P.S. Is it still Hotmail? I thought it was Windows Live Mail now.

    1. Right on with the forced single ID crap. And remember when you could not shut down MSN Messenger after you launched it?

    2. Why not just set-up different IDs? Having them integrated is hardly a problem.

    3. It’s still called Windows Live Hotmail on my account

    4. I get that same feeling. IT’s the MS is going to entrap you into using their crap and their crap only feeling. And they won’t make it easy either.

      My Messenger log-in was a yahoo.com email address for a long time. Then one day MS said we can’t have that and forced me to either get a fake messengeruser.com email address or a hotmail address. I chose the fake one only to have MS fubar my log-in and prevent me from forever more logging into Messenger. Lost my contacts. Tried to fix it. Gave up.

    5. “No way. I’m already tired of the Windows-live-login-everywhere-xbox-live-gamertag-is-also-your-zune-id crap.”

      This is different from using your GMail account to log into myriad Google services how?

      “Sometimes, I don’t want the services I use to be integrated. I just want to f*cking use my Zune and not be asked share my music preferences with MSN buddies, XBOX friends and Bing cashback stores.”

      If you’re asked (which is more than Google does), then why does it bother you? Just say no, and move on with your life.

  6. Brian S Hall Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Remember that Kevin Costner movie, No Way Out. Where it turns out that he’s the communist spy? That would be the level of surprise if I found the new Hotmail to be a superior choice, worthy of switching from my gmail account.

  7. Doriano “Paisano” Carta Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Agree with Simon… gmail is faster and better… even if microsoft improves hotmail (always hated the name even before microsoft bought them) it will always be a weaker wanna-be but I like that they’re finally going to try to bring it into the new century.

    I still think they should merge hotmail with their Outlook Web Access product… thus tempting corporate America (mostly hooked on Microsoft Outlook client) into using this new web mail client for personal and business accounts (separated into different folders of course).
    They even have Windows Live Mail client now… remember outlook express? What a mess that was… nothing related to Outlook whatsoever.

    1. That’s a good idea – turning Hotmail into hosted Exchange. When the book is written, Microsoft’s failure to promulgate hosted Exchange will be recognized as one of the keys to their downfall. Who would have needed Gmail if MS had offered a strong Hotmail product with an upsell to cheap hosted Exchange?

    2. I actually think that’s what might happen. Outlook 2010 is a very strong product, and the Office Web Apps are very much like their desktop equivalents, so extending the metaphor to Hotmail might mean that we get a Hotmail that’s much more like Outlook 2010.

      I always thought the name was rather clever, being a play on HTML :)

      1. Agreed on the name.

        If Microsoft does a good job turning Hotmail into Exchange and allows custom domains, with Office 2010 and a good web hosting/editing service they could easily start taking share from Google Apps.

      2. @Paul

        Taking share from Google Apps is funny. Hotmail still has more active users than any other free mail service, and Google Apps has 4% market share. I agree with the sentiment that Microsoft would do best to make Hosted Exchange their backend, it’s just your reasoning is misguided.

  8. While I think it is good that they are updating their service I don’t see me ever going back to Hotmail. I have used Gmail since late 2005 and have never looked back.

    The fact of the matter is that GMail is simply a far superior email client to anything else on the web, and I often times wish I could use GMail for my corporate emails vs. Outlook.

    Hotmail would have to make some amazingly awe inspiring change for me to venture over, and I don’t see that happening.

    TED – “UI, and there’s almost something ghetto about giving anyone your @hotmail.com address” That is so true!! haha

  9. Monopolists never change their spots and we need competition to keep them in check. One Will never trust Microsoft to do anything benign

  10. Charles Hamilton Thursday, May 13, 2010

    It’s interesting that Apple is also jumping into the email fray with updated MobileMe features, as Darrell reported on TheAppleBlog: http://theappleblog.com/2010/05/13/new-mobileme-mail-web-beta-introduces-gmail-like-features/

    If MobileMe becomes a free service, as has been rumored, Rhmayo will get their wish for more competition.

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