Hotmail makeover

Microsoft is updating Hotmail, its
free email service, in a bid to retain and grow market share over its major
rivals: Google’s Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.

The makeover goes live in either
July or August of this year and will allow users to view or edit sent documents
using web versions of its Office software. This will allow users to preview and
collaborate on documents in real-time, while saving them in the cloud.

Gmail, Google’s popular free email
service, already allows its users to do this through its web based set of
tools, such as Google documents, which offer similar functionality to the
traditional non-cloud-based Microsoft Office suite.

Key changes to Hotmail’s refreshed
look include the addition of ‘Active View’ which is a new function that allows
Hotmail users to preview photo attachments and view them as a slide show with a
single click. There will also be the capability to watch videos, which have
been sent using links, to a site such as YouTube, without leaving the inbox.

One-click filtering, which sits
under a new tab called ‘View’, will allow Hotmail users to see their inbox in
different ways – either to show messages only received by a user’s contacts, or
only unread messages.

Bing, Microsoft’s search engine,
has been integrated further into the email experience, with a new “from Bing”
feature which lets users search for images, videos, or any other content which
they may wish to share, and embed the material into an email with one click.

Microsoft has also promised
additional capabilities such as enhanced account protection and increased
storage levels.

Walt Harp, one of Windows Live’s
directors said that the makeover was to help Hotmail users to become better
equipped to deal with the huge amounts of information flowing through their inboxes
on a daily basis.