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

57 Comments

Microsoft (s msft) 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 (s goog), 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

57 Comments

Richard

No chance. Trust broken. For example, I can’t even use the MSN messenger anymore – it drags on a bunch of adverts, uglifies the UI and insists I need the latest version or I can’t use the service. So Google Chat works perfectly – clean, gets on with it.

Mike Snow

I don’t think better features would make me move. I use hotmail as my public address & so it traps all that garbage that come in. I use Gmail for my private address for family & friends, and direct business. Now that Gmail, brings over my Hotmail inbox autmatically it work great.

Also I am very Google focused using reader, picassa, contacts (synced with my phone), docs, etc. Having all that integrated with e-mail is very helpful, so to move e-mail, I’d want all that capability available.

Nancy McGough

If it has IMAP, automatic forwarding (and optionally leaving a copy at hothmail), let’s me use my own domain, and has an option (possibly via paying) to turn off ads, I’ll consider it.

Troy

No… probably not.
I’ve had so many problems with Microsoft products both as a developer and a user that I avoid them like the plague.

Even their new “updated” software apps have problems… why would this be any different?

DISC

Regarding to privacy I finished my gmail account two years ago. I know both companies will use whatever they want to “profile” me, but: Google is in the black zone about privacy policies while hotmail is in the grey one. And besides the later probably will care about that data much much less.

(At CAK, what I cant stand is a techie using any free mail services for his/her bussiness, c’mon, aren’t the domains cheaper than ever? so get your own and host it!)

Nathan

no, it won’t. I’ve had my gmail address for years and everyone knows what it is. To tempt me away it would have to be a flipping awesome and revolutionary change.

gwenmcgreen

Amazing news! Can’t wait to try Hotmail’s version. I am not sure if it is going to be better than gmail or if hotmail users are ever going to outnumber gmail users but one never knows…

mrshl

I think Hotmail may be trying something a bit more interesting than simply a Web refresh. From what I’ve read, Windows Live Mail (the desktop client) will be very well integrated with the new Web app features, including threading AND “stars”.

The most intriguing suggestion I’ve seen has Microsoft building the perfect desktop client for both Gmail and Hotmail. Which is one reason you’re seeing a few Web app features (like threading and tagging) converge in both systems.

Ak

i think i will. but to be honest, one really big factor for me is that i wont have to change my email address. i have my own domain and host that on google apps and use it for my mails. if hotmail provide a better product and ties it up with the windows live admin center (which they already do with current hotmail), then why not. ill surely give it a spin. i dont like gmail’s UI anyways. its too bland. apart from that, gmail has frequent problems and i simply dont trust google for my privacy.

Ak

i dont think google provides good products for either of your needs.

IMAP on gmail is pathetic and breaks all imap standards. you can argue that some support is better than no support at all; however, hotmail does have delta sync which provides a much better local sync solution than imap. it syncs calendar and contacts too. but then you would need windows OS for all this.

domain email is good with google. but it is equally good/or equally bad with msft. i think they take different approaches to it though.

nomad

Needs to be seen if :
1. the new mail system will work well in other browsers also ? Will it work the same way in FF & Chrome as it does in IE.
2. Can i sync mail and contacts on Outlook, Thunderbird, iPhone, Evolution etc.

dave

There is also some other important thing about gmail that would keep me away from migrating: I have all of my contacts set up there, and my smartphone syncs contacts with gmail, and my macbook and imac sync contacts with my gmail account. I love that!

cak

Maybe it is not the nicest thing to say, but I always suspect someone when they give me a hotmail address. If they are in the tech world, then I lose all respect for them, and put them into the Microsoft fanboy/don’t know any better camps.

Simon Mackie

I also have that reaction, but it doesn’t really make much sense when you think about it. Why should a free Hotmail account evoke that reaction, when a (also free) Gmail account doesn’t?

Ak

lol!

i have the opposite reaction. i seem to think that wow! the guy has been on the net since ages.

a gmail address on the opposite makes me wonder whether the guy just goes with the flow and really understands what he is getting. dont get me wrong. i too have a gmail address. but then im eagerly impatiently waiting to switch :)

Steve

The difference, AK, is you’re in the vast minority in that opinion.

Todd

I’d never, ever switch to hotmail. Gmail is superior in every way.

decisionz

My information says that Hotmail has 3 times as many users as Gmail in some audiences. http://j.mp/dbtAfv

Simon might be saying this is not the case.

And desktop clients are still king. (Compared to reading from the web, which makes it more complex to grok what’s going on.)

I imagine there’s a lot of audiences, some with quite different profiles, but whatever the case, the email game is highly fractured and poorly understood.

Simon Mackie

I am not saying that Gmail has more users at all — Hotmail had a huge userbase and it’s probably still massive. Gmail’s been taking all of the plaudits for years, but I imagine that lots of people haven’t switched (and we’re not even considering Yahoo Mail in here, which makes the picture even more murky!) Without solid data I wouldn’t like to make that claim.

You’re right that there are different audiences. As we can see by the comments here, most web workers would rather use Gmail over Hotmail. For me, it’s probably too late for Hotmail. That’s not to say that Microsoft shouldn’t be praised for investing in the product, but it’s coming too late for me, and people like me.

abhijit

One of the first things I checked when Hotmail was overhauled sometime last year was to check for keyboard shortcuts, because I really like Gmail because of them.

And I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, because Hotmail allowed you to used shortcuts from other mail accounts! So, in Hotmail you can set up keyboard shortcuts to mimic Gmail, Yahoo or even Microsoft Outlook.

Let’s see what Microsoft has up it’s sleeve!

Simon Mackie

Agreed, the product has actually gotten quite a bit better over the last couple of years — which was quite surprising, as prior to that, Microsoft had been leaving it to languish. Maybe they realized that all those users could actually be worth something.

Edward Craig

Hotmail? Nope, probably won’t work on Linux.

Phil

Will Microsoft stop spamming its own customers? Hotmail is the throwaway account for most of us. GMail is for reality!

-apw

Kennedy

I think this is a no brainer. Gmail has proved to be faster, allows more storage, and larger file attachments while Hotmail stayed stagnent for years. I do still use Hotmail, similar to you as a “spam trap” and for those few old friends. Gmail, however, serves and will continue to serve as my primary personal email.

rhmayo

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

Ragazzo

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

Doriano "Paisano" Carta

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.

Paul

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?

Simon Mackie

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 :)

Paul

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.

Christopher

@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.

Brian S Hall

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.

Slushy

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.

Paul

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

Joe

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

trip1ex

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.

Sean

“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.

Suman Gandham

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 :) .

suresh

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.

Ted

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.

David

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.

Paul

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.

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