If you’ve been following this blog, you know that we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how consumers are using their email and how they manage their inboxes. We've also talked about how we decide what to build based on what we hear from customers.
Today, we’re excited to give you a preview of the new Windows Live Hotmail, representing the next generation in personal email.
Email has changed a lot over the last five years. These days, you’re getting more email than ever – email that often requires you to leave your inbox to complete an action; you’re getting bigger and bigger attachments; and you’re using smart phones where you want to sync not only your email, but your contacts and calendar, too. In this post, we’ll talk about how we’ve built the new Hotmail, slated to launch this summer worldwide, to address the needs of the modern inbox.
To refresh our perspective on peoples’ email needs as of 2010, we spent a lot of time taking a close look at how people are using email both in Hotmail and in other email services today. We found a number of interesting things.
People send and receive more email than ever, but the types of email are changing. In the past the inbox contained mostly mail from people you knew— your contacts. Today’s personal inbox is different. Mail from contacts is only a quarter of the typical inbox today; the rest of the inbox includes mail from social networks (20%), personal business (including newsletters, receipts, and shipping information), and “other mail” (which is typically junk mail or graymail). People made it clear to us that the number one thing they wanted their email service to address — whether it was Hotmail or any other email service — was to help them manage the clutter in their inbox; not just the spam, but all the mail they get that’s clogging their inboxes.
The content of email is different. While many messages are still just text, most of today’s email includes photos, documents, links, or other attachments. On Hotmail alone, people send and receive more than 1.5 billion photos and 350 million Office documents every month. What this means is that people have to leave their inboxes more and more often in order to complete common tasks like accepting social network invitations, viewing photo albums and videos, tracking packages, making purchases, tracking travel itinerary updates, and more.
People want to stay in touch on their phones and on the go. As we all know, people are doing more with smart phones than they ever have in the history of mobile communications. Expectations for mobile email are at their highest and include not just email, but also calendars, contacts, and tasks.
These changes were a call to action for our team. We knew we had an opportunity not just to add more features but to design our service with these new inbox needs in mind. So we set out to redesign Hotmail to help you:
With the new Hotmail, we’ve introduced practical innovations to help people manage the clutter and regain control of their inboxes – efficiently. What's more, you can manage clutter not only in your Hotmail inbox, but also in your inboxes from other email services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail Plus, or AOL, all from within Hotmail.
The moment you log into the new Hotmail, you can see at a glance that you now have a convenient and concise summary of the most important mail in your inbox - new email from friends and contacts, social network updates, shipping notices, appointments, and birthday reminders - along with a conveniently consolidated, privacy-protected stream of photos and updates from your closest friends on Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter, and over 70 other websites. The new Home page even lets you post comments directly to some of these sites and update your Facebook status. Of course, if you want to skip this page and just go straight to your inbox, there's a link at the bottom of the page so you can easily do that.
Once in your inbox, cut through the clutter by clicking just once to see all the mail from your contacts, or all of your social network updates (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.), or mail from the group mailing lists you belong to. You can also click once to see all messages that have links to photos or photos attached, or all messages that have Office documents attached, or shipping updates, or messages you’ve flagged.
Sweep away clutter. Once you’ve gone through the messages you want, it’s time to get rid of the ones that you don’t want. We know how to keep “true SPAM” out of your inbox, but we also know you still get a lot of other mail in your inbox that you don’t want. We call this "graymail" – legitimate mail that you signed up to receive or agreed to receive at one point, but you no longer want. The new Hotmail gives you the first and only virtual broom in any inbox out there, letting you sweep the mail you don’t want right out of your inbox – all in just a couple of clicks. No need to go to the trouble of creating and managing complex rules. Just sweep unwanted mail into folders for safe keeping or the trash for deleting, leaving your inbox clean and organized. You can even tell Hotmail to sweep incoming messages automatically on an ongoing basis (until you tell Hotmail otherwise) by simply checking a box. You can also sweep your Gmail and Yahoo! Mail Plus inboxes, too. Just add them into your Hotmail account and sweep the clutter from those accounts as well.
Now that you’ve got control of your inbox, we're also helping you get more done with the mail you get. This starts with Hotmail Active View – an automatic preview that brings your email to life. We're currently focusing Active View on giving you more ways to interact with messages you receive containing photos, links, and documents.
Photos. We know that email is still the most popular way to share photos. With the new Hotmail, we automatically show you a preview of your photo attachments, and let you view them as a slide show in a single click. No more leaving your inbox or complicated opening and saving – just click and view. It’s the way email should work. What’s even better is that this works not just for photo attachments, but also for photos shared through links to sites like Flickr and SmugMug.
For sharing photos, we’ve gone a step further and helped to break through the limits of past email. Increasingly, photos are larger and larger, and yet sending big email attachments can clog the inboxes of your friends and family. With Hotmail, we’ve combined the simplicity of sending photos through email with the power of Windows Live SkyDrive so that you can send up to 200 photos, each up to 50 MB in size, all in a single email. You can send all your vacation photos at once without worrying about attachment limits. Your photos are effortlessly transformed into an online album and your recipients will get a gorgeous email that lets them see all the photos no matter what email service they're using. They can view a slide show, download some or all of the photos, make comments, tag their friends, and even add their own photos. If you’re using Windows, you can even download the photos directly into Windows Live Photo Gallery for advanced photo editing and management made easy.
Documents. Documents work just like photos. If you receive a document, you can now open it with the full power of the new Office Web Apps, right in Hotmail. Just click and view. Just as you do with photos, you can send up 200 Office documents of up to 50 MB each. Send PowerPoint presentations embedded with videos, Word documents rich with images, and more.
With the new Hotmail, you can attach an Office document to an email and have it stored on SkyDrive. Hotmail then sends the document via SkyDrive, so that you – and the people you send it to – can access it from anywhere regardless of whether they use a PC or Mac, have Office installed, use Hotmail or don't, or have smaller attachment limitations than the 10 GB per message allowed by Hotmail. No more worrying about whether that document is stored on the computer you have with you, the computer you use at the library at your office, in your dorm room, or elsewhere.
You can also start working with these documents using Office on your PC and have your changes automatically saved back to SkyDrive. SkyDrive will also track and store older versions of the document so that you can revert to prior versions if you want to.
Shipping updates, social updates, photos, and videos. Thanks to the many fantastic partners we’re working with, people using Hotmail can save time and get more done right in the individual messages they receive, whether they're connecting to someone on LinkedIn, watching a video sent from YouTube or Hulu, or tracking a shipping notification. Suddenly, your email inbox is getting a lot richer and giving you new ways to be more productive online.
Now that you’ve taken back your inbox and done more with your mail, we want to make sure you can get to it from anywhere. Hotmail supports push email on the web, PC, and now also on the mobile phone. Using Exchange ActiveSync, available on nearly 300 million phones, you can not only seamlessly synchronize Hotmail between your phone and the web, but you can also synchronize your calendar, contacts, and tasks.
We know not all phones are smart phones, and so we also built a mobile experience optimized for rich browsers and touch screens, so that your experience feels the same on all the latest phones. The mobile inbox supports filters, in-line message previews, HTML messages, offline e-mail viewing, conversation threading, the ability to flag messages, the option to show or hide message header details, and more. You can also manage invitations received via Hotmail, set reminders, aggregate multiple calendars, or share a calendar with friends and family, and do it all from your phone's web browser.
In this post we covered a few highlights of the new Hotmail and in follow-up posts we’ll go into more depth on other areas that we invested in, including enhanced account protection, full-session SSL, multiple email accounts, subfolders, contact management, and ever-growing storage.
The way people “do email” has changed a lot and continues to evolve. We designed the new Hotmail with this evolution in mind, so you can easily get the clutter out of your inbox, save time getting through your email, and view and edit photos and Office documents in your browser. In the coming weeks, we’ll start rolling out the new Hotmail broadly to our customers. You can also learn more about the upcoming Hotmail release at www.hotmailpreview.com.
We built Hotmail for you and the way you work today. We look forward to sharing this with all of you soon and getting your feedback!
Dick Craddock Group Program Manager for Windows Live Hotmail
My birthday is Monday June 14, mind given a supporter some early beta Live action.. c'mon you know you want to do it! :D
I just want to reply to the general concensous that Hotmail is bland... personally I don't think that is true.
I log into my test gmail account and think that it is way too minimalistic (and I like minimalistic). When's the last time they updated the interface? A new theme here and there and a new lab to test out once in awhile- that's it.
Will the new hotmail have better search features? I've been hoping for that for so long!
Oh and I forgot to include in my first comment: SSL. It would be great to read my email without being spied on over a network, certainly. That's been happening a lot lately. :|
Sounds like lots of questions have been addressed here, cool. I am very happy that taglines are finally being removed. I can deal with page ads if the taglines are gone, it makes it hard to hold complex conversations and people generally sneer at the idea of a hotmail address for this.
I guess the next question is how long will this take? I can't wait forever for new changes when there are competitive alternatives NOW.
I still want to know if I will be able to Sync Mail with Windows Live Mail DeltaSync without running Windows Live Messenger 24/7 with it. I don't use Messenger for anything other than making the mail get pushed to Windows Live Mail. I think that's a disingenuous shortfall, and not-so-clever way of forcing people to run a bloated IM client they don't use, and never will. "The next generation of personal email" should not equate to being forced to run an IM client to get the functionality of IMAP because Microsoft doesn't feel like supporting a standard that has existed for over a decade... --- JLT I'm not going to respond to your rediculous "want" because it makes little to no sense. @ the other person who responded about the web mail client. Point taken, but a business that can't afford a domain name and a $9/mo 4GB+ Exchange Mailbox is not a business I want to be dealing with, unless they're for getting my grass cut, or something.
@Mike: I agree with you on this: "it usually comes down to opportunity cost: everything we do requires testing, maintenance and support". Regarding this statement: "what happens when a user accidentally resizes the pane too small and can't figure out what they did" ... I suspect that this problem has already been solved in countless other Microsoft applications .... no need to reinvent the wheel .... just reuse the appropriate UI design/code from other Microsoft products that allow the user to resize with a splitter bar.
@Mike: I see to what you're referring, however, the icon only provides the option to insert a hyper-link, not link a single word to send in an email.
@Deioneus -- 1) 10MB for free users, 20MB for Plus users, for regular attachments. It will be 50MB per file if you use the new feature to send use Skydrive. 2) We don't publish a schedule for the rollout, as many variables are involved, but we appreciate that everybody wants this now! 3) They'll be added to the queue. 4) Yes, ActiveViews can be turned off permanently, or hidden temporarily while reading a message.
@langware -- Good feedback on the need for choices. As for why we don't offer a particular choice that users ask for, it usually comes down to opportunity cost: everything we do requires testing, maintenance and support (what happens when a user accidentally resizes the pane too small and can't figure out what they did), and represents something we didn't do. I'm not saying we won't ever add these options or that they're not good ideas, but just that the decision isn't as obvious as it seems.
@kcrannie -- You can do that today in Hotmail without HTML code! Select the text you want to link, then click the button in the text formatting toolbar that's 5th from the right, the one with the globe & link icon. The tooltip is "Insert hyperlink". Type/paste your URL, click OK, and you're done.
@Mike and/or @Langware: Quick question, will Wave 4 of WLH allow user's to create one-word website links within an email (link a web address in a single word to send in an email) as opposed to doing some basic HTML coding as is the case in the current verion of Windows Live Hotmail?
@Langware: Yes, Kudos. @Nater: Wow. You absolutely didn't read what I wrote. Stunning fail. #1, My complaint to MS is my inability to TURN OFF spam filtering as they do not allow it. #2. My additional comments about spam filtering were to demonstrate technically that the spam filter serves absolutely no purpose anyway. If you read my posts, you would see that you agreed with every word I said, and missed the rest of the point 1,000%.
@Langware: Thank you for being the voice of reason. I couldn't have said it better myself.
As Mike has already stated, the upcoming release of Hotmail will remove all taglines attached to outbound messages (and they can easily be removed from outbound messages sent from the current version of Hotmail).
Some may choose to use a web-based email client for the convenience of being able to access their email from computers other than their own. Many small businesses owners are on tight budgets and have older hardware. They may find a web-based email client more cost effective and less trouble to configure and maintain. For whatever their reasons, many customers (including some small business owners) do choose to use the web-based Hotmail service.
Quote: *** I send professional emails to clients and the tagline attached to outbound messages really makes my emails look cheap. *** Use Windows Live Mail or Outlook connector? And why are you using Hotmail for business and creating/editing "professional emails to clients" in a web client? If you have access to a PC, there is no reason you should have to send someone an email with a tag line. If you use the Hotmail email address for business (terrible idea/practice, but that's just my opinion), them I'm sure whoever controls the PC will allow you to install Windows Live Mail or Outlook Connector on it - for business reasons.
@Mike: Fantastic mate! Kudos to you and your team. Thanks for listening and acting upon user's feedback.
First, thank you for responding to the comments in this post. It is very refreshing to finally receive responses from a member of the Hotmail Product Team. Perhaps customers would not be as frustrated (as reflected in their posts) if there was an ongoing forum where they could actually converse with a knowledgeable member of the Hotmail Team (the Windows Live Solutions Center does not meet that need; moderators can answer "how to" questions but not the type of questions found in this thread).
I still have a few followup questions ... QuickAdd pane will only appear when the user "needs" it. Who defines when the user "needs" it? Why not have an enable/disable option for those users who do not want/need it? UI for AutoSave no longer appears ... but again, why no enable/disable option and why no option to allow the user to set the interval? Reading Pane .... the issue is not how it looks but how much screen real estate it consumes. Since the only way to keep the action icons in header from scrolling off is to keep the Reading Pane enabled, then why not allow the Reading Pane to be reduced in size to zero via the splitter bar (splitter can currently be use to shrink the Reading Pane ... just not to zero).
Mike, one of the common points being made in the comments here is that your customers want choices. Choices to disable the spam filters, choices to enable/disable and configure other options, etc. Customers want to decide when/if they "need" a specific feature and how it will be configured. Many of these choices could be implemented with very little development effort, and would go a long way toward improving Hotmail's usability. Please consider giving your customers these choices.
@Mike - A few more questions for you:
1. What is the limit for regular attachments that aren't set through SkyDrive? Currently, the limit is 10 MB...
2. How long do you estimate that it will take the new Hotmail to be rolled out to existing users?
3. Will new account users that sign up on the day the roll out begins receive the new version of Hotmail from the start, or will they be added to the queue of users to be upgraded to the new release?
4. In some of the preview screenshots I have seen there is a settings option for Hotmail's Active Views - are you able to turn the Active Views off if you wish?
Thanks for your time!
@Deioneus -- there have been no new additions to Hotmail Plus. The focus of that offer is still no graphical ads and no account expiration.
@Prateek, @kcrannie -- you'll be happy to know that the ads attached to outgoing mails will be stopped as soon as your account gets upgraded to the new version!
@langware, to answer your questions about other changes we haven't discussed yet: the QuickAdd pane will be off by default and will only appear when the user needs it. The UI for autosaving drafts no longer appears so users will no longer experience scrolling problems. We have not changed how the reading pane looks. There are many other improvements in this wave, and we are looking forward to having everybody get a chance to try it out and see for themselves!
There is one area I would like to see Microsoft improve on the New Windows Live Hotmail and, that is, removing the tag-lines attached to outbound messages. I can live with the advertisements on WLH webmail, but image receiving emails with 20 deep or more of tag-lines that have been forwarded mutliple times. It looks aweful! GMail, for example, DOES NOT attach tag-lines to outbound messages. While Gmail does have inline advertisements on the interface pages of its webmail, NO tag-lines are attached to outbound messages. It provides for a clean looking email sent.
I send professional emails to clients and the tagline attached to outbound messages really makes my emails look cheap. Microsoft says they listen and act upon user's feedback. This is one area that I would really like to see Microsoft act upon; removing tag-lines attached to outbound messages.
I wish they remove the footer ad in the outgoing mails from the web version of Windows Live Mail (they already removed it from the desktop Windows Live Mail program though).
@ JLT: ***Did you read my previous post? Hotmail suggests that users periodically check their junk mail folder to hunt down those 'false positives'.... so what does the Spam filter actually accomplish besides wasting more of a user's time? *** You're being thoroughly ridiculous, and you're starting to look like a troll. Even GMail throws legit emails into the Spam folder on occasion, and I got more email at GMail than I get at Exchange (Hosted) or Live Hotmail. You seem to want nothing more than to argue with the devs, because any mail service suggests you check your Junk Email folder occasionally to make sure no legit emails were put there. Only an idiot would NOT check their junk email folder occasionally, regardless of what email service they use. Even Exchange, Notes, etc. users will do that.
I loved the changes that you made in Hotmail, but one feature that I would love to see would be Adobe Reader to be included in the Inbox itself, in the same way as you guys have included Office Applications. So that we can open and see the .pdf files in the inbox without having to download them.
@Mike Schackwitz: Wow! Love for my post! I appreciate your programming trick. And I must preface this by saying with the size of your company, I never expected to have someone from an organization as large as yours read suggestions from users, so sorry I'm taking full advantage here.... However, you, and by that, I mean you and every other warm body at MS...miss the point. Why does MS INSIST on not giving a user the option of turning off spam protection unless they program some 'trick' to fool the spam system in the first place? Does not ONE entity at MS think that giving users the option of using or not using any of the features on any of their products would be preferable to just jamming it down their throats? Not so much. And that GUI on the new office suite.... don't get me started. Not ONE person thought.... well, maybe we should give the option of keeping the old button layout...? Seriously. I know your answer.... you just gave it: "Most of our users". Is MS trying to please only MOST of their users? Of course they are! That's what happens when a company gets too damn big for their britches! Instead of trying to please ALL their users, they now only try to please most. And in the process, they get so big that now they can dictate what users want, right? In case you are wondering, when you read all over the net where advanced users are unhappy with MS, this is one of the things that they are griping about. Now, I ask you..... and I am being absolutely sincere. Think about your answer...... Please explain what the purpose of the spam filter is and how it is NOT 100% worthless, hmm? Did you read my previous post? Hotmail suggests that users periodically check their junk mail folder to hunt down those 'false positives'.... so what does the spam filter actually accomplish besides wasting more of a user's time? There are only two purposes to this multi-million dollar spam filter: A. Make dumb or lazy users delete legitimate email mismarked as spam so they can purportedly save a few seconds per day or B. Make users who don't want good email deleted to take even more steps and time to comb through it after it has been separated. That's it! That entire HUGE program and it is boiled down to deleted good emails or wasting time and money. You will NEVER make the filter foolproof, and I dare you to say you will. Congratulations, I'm positive Microsoft has no other use for those dollars. Every person posting to this forum has a legitimate idea and request for MS which are routinely ignored (or certainly seem to be) because MS would rather put out a crippled product that THEY think the 'masses' will like rather than a fully featured product that advanced users can conform to their needs. Will I keep using Hotmail? YES! But I can't grasp why you all are so thick headed you can't do something so freaking simple like program in that OFF button, that's all. After using MS products all my life, that is the answer I'm most waiting to hear from you guys. Thanks.
@Mike: What changes will be made to the Hotmail Plus offerings now that free users get many of the paid perks?
@JLT -- your request is bit unusual, as most of our customers are happy that we’re making our spam protection better and better, and our rate of false positives is actually quite low. But, you can use rules to achieve what you want, by creating a rule that insures that all email will land in your inbox. To do this, go to the Options page, click "Automatically sort e-mail into folders". Set up a rule where the criteria is "From address contains @" and the action is "Deliver to Inbox". That will achieve the result you want.
*** Oh, and I wanted to add *** How about fixing DeltaSync so that it actually Syncs? ATM, it functions much like a POP3 protocol with "Leave Messages on Server" enabled in the client application (Windows Live Mail and Hotmail Connector). The only time I can get emails pushed to Windows Live Mail is when I have Windows Live Messenger Running, which is a terrible solution, IMO. Maybe you guys crippled it in that way to force people to use both applications? I'm not sure. It just seems like a waste to install Live Mail if I'm missing emails because I don't wanna be rediculous and set Automatic Send/Recieve to 1 minute, or continuously slam on F5. Sometimes people get mail that they need to respond to/act on ASAP. Having DeltaSync instead of IMAP is working out to be an incredible hinderence/disadvantage (and risk, for some people), and I don't know how many more *relatively urgent* emails I can "miss" before I have to drop you guys.
You are right, I should have differentiated between "listening" and "acting on", but I am sure you would agree that from your customer's perspective, "acting on" is the most important of the two.
I agree that you/Microsoft are "listening to" customers ... thank you for reading and listening to my posts. Also, thank you for "acting on" your customer's feedback and (in Wave4) removing the text ads attached to outbound messages.
With respect to the current hijacking problem, I'm sure your customers (especially those whose accounts have already been hijacked) are looking forward to reading the upcoming post that explains what actions Microsoft will be taking to reduce the number of new hijackings. However, the proof of whether Microsoft truly "acts upon" the hijacking problem will be to observe a significant decrease in customer complaints about hijackings (and the effects of hijacking such as spam being sent from ones account, contact lists being deleted, accounts being locked due to the amount of spam sent from them, passwords changed by the hijacker, etc).
With respect to the problem of extended outages due to maintenance, again the proof of whether Microsoft truly "acts upon" this ongoing problem will be a significant reduction in complaints.
The above two issues (hijacking and extended outages due to maintenance) contribute to a large volume of complaints on the Windows Live Solutions Center. However, there have been many other customer requests in WLSC for enhancements to Hotmail's User Interface. Can you tell us if Wave4 will address any of the following customer-requested options: an option to enable/disable the Quick Add pane, an option to enable/disable the Auto Save feature (along with an option to set the interval to a value other than 3 minutes), the ability to use the splitter bar to reduce the size of the Reading Pane to zero (I realize that the Reading Pane can be totally disabled. But when the Reading Pane is disabled, the User Interface behaves differently: key action icons are scrolled off the top of the screen. With the Reading Pane enabled, but its size reduced to zero via the splitter bar, then key icons will not be scrolled off). Will Microsoft "act upon" these customer-requested options that improve Hotmail's User Interface?
Quoting: "I have given up on Windows mobile and moved to an android phone. It would be helpful to have a way to get hotmail push on the android device. I can sync with an exchange server, so it would seem that this would be a simple thing to do." --
You could have done yourself a huge favor by getting an Apple, RIM, or Nokia device, Lol. There's a reason why Verizon is selling Android phones two for the price of one..
I have given up on Windows mobile and moved to an android phone. It would be helpful to have a way to get hotmail push on the android device. I can sync with an exchange server, so it would seem that this would be a simple thing to do.
@ Mike Schackwitz: No love for my post? Why does Hotmail shove spam 'protection' down my throat? It seems awfully simple to program in that "Off" selection in addition to the others. If your answer will include any reference whatsoever to a line similar to "what's best for users", then please fly over here immediately! I need Microsoft to make ALL my decisions from now on! How ever will I decide what to eat, where to go.... yikes!
@langware, please differentiate between "listening" and "acting on". I personally have read many of your posts on the Support Community, and hundreds of others, so listening is happening. :-) But, we can't act on everything.
For example, for advertising, offering different locations for the ad is technically easy, but challenging from the perspective of guaranteeing inventory for ad buyers, and getting all ad buyers to provide different sizes of ad. You'll note that few, if any, major web sites offer users a choice of ad location. Instead, many sites, including Hotmail, offer paid accounts where the ads are hidden.
Also, we *will* be removing the text ads that are attached to outbound mails for free users. This will occur once your account is upgraded to the new version.
For hijacking, those are some great ideas. We considered some of them, as well as others, and will explain what we're doing in an upcoming post.
For service status, we are working on reducing the time to detect issues, the duration of outages, and also to remove the root cause where we can. This is a continual effort, and not something we do only as part of the Wave release.
For more info on the architecture of Hotmail, check out this post: windowsteamblog.com/.../hotmail-tips-the-scales.aspx
To Chris Gonzales.... Although my Windows Live Mail does let me turn of the spam filter, HOTMAIL'S lowest selectable spam setting is "Low - Obvious junk e-mail is sent to the junk e-mail folder." So even though spam filtering is shut off on WLM, Hotmail's is ALWAYS ON with no way to shut it off, and legitimate mail ends up in my junk folder.... where I have to go digging for it. If anyone knows a way around this, do tell. To add insult to injury, if I identify a legitimate email in the junk folder and tag it as "not junk".... Hotmail sends it off into the inbox and shoves it into the list according to the date it arrived (as it should). But I then have to go digging for it AGAIN in that list wasting more time. Unbelievably annoying. Spam filtering is a total waste of time unless you're a user that likes to erase possibly legitimate emails in the process.
@Mike Schackwitz: With all due respect ... extended outages (greater than 4 hours and sometimes days) due to "maintenance" are still being being reported on the Windows Live Solution Center. Have a look ... search on the word "maintenance".
With respect to hijackings .... here are some examples of improvements that could be made to help stop them:
1. An option that allows users to specify a default IP address. If an attempt to sign on to Hotmail does not originate from the user's default IP address, then the user's secret question(s) must be successfully answered before the sign on is accepted.
2. An option to warn the user if there was more than one computer currently signed on to the account (possibly indicating that a spammer was in the process of hijacking the account). The IP addresses of all computers currently using the account could also be displayed.
3. Insert a warning (telling the recipient not to respond) into every phishing message that claims to be from Microsoft and asks for the recipient's Hotmail password. These phishing messages are a scam and only result in user's accounts being hijacked (if the user responds to the official-looking message). Too many users think these phishing messages are legitimate.
4. A table showing the last 10 sign-on attempts to the user's account ... with the IP address and date/time of each sign-on.
To those who are justifiably annoyed by the right-side ads in Hotmail, and the ads embedded in each email sent ... both of these can easily be removed with Greasemonkey scripts and Firefox. Since early 2009, customers have been asking Microsoft to at least provide an option as to the location of these ads (top, bottom, left, right). From the description of Wave4, it appears that Microsoft has not listened. Thus, the evolution of scripts to just remove those ads.
@langware -- For the outages, we have addressed the ones that were reported, and have improved our tools to help detect these sooner. For the hijacks, there are a lot of improvements coming that will help address this; look for a whole blog post soon on this.
@joshbw -- proper folder support is part of the Wave, but will be released a little later.
@joshbw, @aaronjudze08 -- the ads at the end of messages will be eliminated when your account gets upgraded to the newest release!
@Kantong -- Hotmail Plus is still available in many countries. You can learn more about it here: www.gowindowslive.com/.../default.aspx
The biggest thing missing in my opinion is proper folder support. I like to centralize my many email accounts into a single place, and filter email from each account into a folder specific for that account. I can currently do that now, but the problem is that if I then want to further sort mail into subfolders for additional organization I am out of luck. That is the primary reason I use Gmail over hotmail these days - I even have my hotmail account being checked from there. That one feature is one that I make such great use of that it determines which email service I use.
The atrocious ads on hotmail, and embedded in the email messages, are also a huge annoyance. Its great that you have added all of this other functionality, but changing those two things would actually impact my personal experience the most.
Heyitsrick, Exchange ActiveSync is way better than IMAP - same functionality, but more! (like Calendar and Contacts sync) It's much faster as well.
This was about time.
While Google seems to hectic jumping on anything and keep it beta, MS is to reluctant and does not involve the community enough. I still like MS approach a bit more, but try to get closer to "us".
Hotmail is getting some huge improvements. But too many floating annoying Flash ads. No IMAP. Can't set number of messages to view per page, no warning for suspicious account access from a different IP. Missing cool features like Sender Time Zone.
You stated: "We've also talked about how we decide what to build based on what we hear from customers."
The two most frequent complaints from customers who post in the Windows Live Solution Center are: (1) extended outages (days or weeks) due to server "maintenance", and (2) accounts being hijacked and used to send spam, then having their contact lists deleted, and the account blocked (due to high volume of spam sent).
Your customers are telling you (by the volume of their complaints) that these two issues need to be resolved. Please explain how Wave4 will make significant progress in solving these two ongoing problems.
What will get me using hotmail is again is to remove the advertising from the bottom of the emails I send. Gmail does it for free.
@pikablu0530 true, we had those updates. But even then, hotmail paled in comparison to gmail. And none of those features reallly helped. I'd rather have one feature a week or something rather than a bunch of features every year.
Chris-Gonzales--that's our point. It may be a major update, but there hasn't been a minor update since... over a year I believe. If you go to gmail you can see them adding features almost weekly or monthly. The major updates of hotmail made me feel the developers weren't listening. I was so annoyed that hotmail wasn't even incremently updated that I was forced to switch, at least for a while.
Regards branding: do customers tell you that they want to log in to "Windows Live Hotmail" whereas before they just knew it as "Hotmail?" Should people who have Blackberries, iPads, Androids or iPhones not use WLH... is there a generic version? Is this a distinction with a difference, or does "Windows Live" just mean, "New and Improved!" ?
As somebody else said: it all looks like Microsoft is in the "Windows" business, not in the business of providing software or communication or services. Well OK, I suppose, except for the explosion of non-Windows things going on these days. Or perhaps, MS is trying to get us to realize that "Windows" doesn't really mean Windows (R).
All sounds good.
But, seriously, no IMAP? This makes me very sad.
I hope that you will not forget to finally do away with the completely outdated "safe senders" list limit - it needs way more than 100 entries (that is, for paying users). Thanks!
seems nice so far :) However I really hope the Windows Live Mail Client ... ( the software ) gets an equivalent update.
[Apologies if this comment appears multiple times. I'm a first time poster, and each time I try to leave a comment, it does not appear in the list]
Yes Microsoft, the floating Flash ads which expand to cover my email when accidentally hovered are EXTREMELY ANNOYING and the primary reason I switched to Gmail as it only has non intrusive text-based ads that don't get in the way. Many times I want to switch to my other linked Hotmail accounts or Sign out or while scrolling I end up clicking on the ad because it expands. And the ads being shown depending on the location, you may not be getting the exact idea of how horrible the ads are in other locations besides the US.
Looks like a very major upgrade but everything is fail if floating Flash ads from advertisers start floating over my messages and sign out/account switch buttons, Microsoft. Get rid of floating flash ads. If you can't control them, put the ad bar horizontally at the very bottom. Microsoft has no idea of real world user experience in Hotmail because of the floating Flash ads.
JLT, you can control the spam filter your self.
Since my begs to MS Live have gone unanswered, I hope you can take a suggestion for Hotmail.
Stop filtering my email by default, and not letting me make Hotmail stop doing so!!!
You may want to argue this point, and I hope that you do, but filtering my mail for spam actually costs me more time and energy! Stop it!
I cannot shut off basic spam filtering on my Hotmail, and that is Microsoft's fault. As a result, some legitimate mail makes it into the junk folder. As users have to 'periodically' go through each piece of mail in that junk folder, we end up scanning each subject line/sender anyway, just as we would have if it was in the inbox.
So how does this save time? It doesn't.
Please, please, please. One of the biggest gripes about Microsoft is how "IT" decides what's best for users, without giving users the option of shutting off features. This new Hotmail revamp scares me, as if history is any guide, new features will not be optional.
If you want a spam filter, fine. But let some people shut it off as an option!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The look and feel of Hotmail in the video above looks way better and less cluttered than the one in the pictures above!
And for what it's worth, I also agree with liquidboy! Incremental updates is way better than this once-a-year crap. It's why I continue to use gmail. It makes me feel like it's always being updated. But I still have my eye on Hotmail. You still have a chance to win me back.
@usctrojan98, setting a custom domain to be used with Hotmail is something you can today, using either Live Domains or Office Live Small Business. I use OLSB, I love it because it serves my small business needs extremely well. It would be nice if these options were noted and can optionally sign up for them during the time the user signs up for a Live ID/Hotmail account. Its a discoverability..ease of use issue.
What about support for custom domains? I currently use google apps to send and receive email directly as firstname.lastname@example.org. Is this possible with hotmail today? If not, will it be possible to do so in the new hotmail?
Any "import" utility you are going to build to allow people like me to switch to hotmail without downloading 3.5GB of emails locally and then uploading the same back to hotmail?
I couldn't resist! Blogged: www.timacheson.com/.../new_hotmail_announced
Wow! This will be really useful. Launch this soon please! Every time I send or download an attachment, I feel there should be a SkyDrive button to go with it. SkyDrive is rapidly becominbg by far the most useful online storage facility, thanks to the new Hotmail, the new Office Live, and of course Office 2010. SkyDrive is my new hard drive, it has everything!
All SkyDrive needs now is:
- The ability to upload bigger files (up to 5 GB would be nice)
- An API (in fact, there already is an API, but we need it to be made public please!)
- Permanent direct URLs to the file
First I would like to say, Great Job! Office Web Apps, deeper SkyDrive integration, ActiveViews and ActiveSync are major major updates. I love these.
Some have posted that they would rather see more frequent changes to the service. In my opinion, the magnitude of this release just doesn't work with an incremental approach. I do hope, that afterwards you will, for awhile at least..get into a incremental release mode so that you can cull down on some of the criticism about release spacing.
Some questions regarding Hotmail I have and will be reviewing once the new release is rolled out...
- Can we upload short video clips to SkyDrive and share them (w/ActiveView) like the greatly enhanced photo support? I would think yes because of Messenger's support for Video Messages.
- I currently have a Premium account. Besides removing advertising...any other advantages you will be introducing with Wave 4?
- Will the Windows Live components to Bing Bar be updated? Hotmail message notifications are too slow and the rest of the WL components are currently just placeholders.
- Is Live Hotmail well suited for upcoming slate PCs? It seems item spacing is decent.
Some of these complaints are pretty silly...Major updates vs. minor ones that you might not even know/hear about? Who cares? And how anyone could call the butt-ugly Gmail interface attractive is beyond me. I like a clean UI, and I've never liked the Gmail look, even with skinning.
One thing, though, that continues to annoy is the continuing lack of IMAP! Come on, Microsoft. What possible excuse can you give at this late date not to implement IMAP in Hotmail? It's absurd. What gives?
No doubt Windows Live Mail owns!
And these new features are just more than any other mail service. I think you are targeting the Gmail features? I liked the sweep feature! Just watched the video! Brilliant!
Well I for one am very happy. Exchange sync for will be awesome for using my exchange enabled devices and software like my iPhone and iPad (and I guess the outlook connector won't be required any more!) How do you get one the beta testers list??? :-)
@pcolmer Based on my understanding of the new release, there's three things I'd like share with you: 1) Not ALL attachments are stored via SkyDrive. You can still attach files like you do today. It's only when you have large amounts of photos or office docs that you have an "option" to share via SkyDrive. Otherwise, it's still the same. 2) Files can be stored indefinitely. One of the new features of SkyDrive Wave 4 is the ability to set "expiry dates" for files/folders uploaded. However, you can also set "no expiry date" as well. 3) Exchange ActiveSync support should work for Outlook, or any other email client or devices that supports Exchange ActiveSync.
@liquidboy Let's not forget about the incremental upgrades since Wave 3 like POP3 support, POP Aggregation, Ever-growing storage, Auto-refresh / Auto-save, Web Messenger integration...etc. Did we take these upgrades for granted or what?
I am somewhat concerned to read that all attachments sent through Hotmail are stored using SkyDrive ... and then deleted after 30 days! Hopefully there will be an option to allow the attachment to be sent as part of the email so that the receipient can keep the attachment for as long as they like?
Also, I understand that Wave 4 will introduce ActiveSync support for Hotmail. Will this be usable with Outlook or just phones? I'd love to see full synchronisation happening with email, contacts, calendar and tasks!
Also, can anyone from Microsoft talk about their current stance on advertisements? The big block ones (on the right hand side) are very annoying and the ones attached to the bottom of emails are so pointless considering half the time they only advertise microsofts own products. I would happily pay $20 a year for a "Premium" Windows Live account that also ensures its not deactivated. It seems at one stage there was a Hotmail Plus, the page and all is still live, but cant sign upto it anymore.
I agree with everyone else on this, disappointed its all coming in a major release and not small upgrades as liquidboy said, it looks very stale 6 months after a major release. Also really disappointed Hotmail's new interface doesn't look better. It really does not compete on the same level as Gmail or Yahoo. Hardly any AJAX and the stuff that is AJAX looks very bland and basic. The interface looks very 5 years ago. New features are always good tho :)
Impressive improvements. Now only ALL of these improvements (especially the Hotmail highlights/summary page) can be put in the rich client (Live Mail). And I agree with the suggestion about incremental improvements or at least more *regular* improvements instead of waiting for years. And few things still missing are IMAP support and free forwarding to Gmail or Yahoo so we are not locked in to Hotmail.
What you people fail to understand is wave 4 is going to be a MAJOR update, so having mini updates just wont cut it
but I agree on the mini minor updates. but remember. this is a MAJOR update
I wish users could start testing the BETA or something rather than just seeing a video that has no firm date of release in it.
I agree with liquidboy. I'd prefer quicker, smaller updates! These things are really annoying. I almost switched to gmail and came back. Also, when can we start using this!
One thing i would love to see in hotmail is incremental changes rather than these massive releases 1 year later. I went over to google because it just feels like something that is continuously improved week after week. Hotmail just seems like something that stays stale for a year then gets an update. Completely goes against how the web works..