Hotmail gets flags right

Hotmail gets flags right

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Everyone has their own favorite way of keeping important email close at hand – marking unread, flagging, or filing in a folder. But each system has drawbacks. The new release of Hotmail solves this problem once and for all by making a simple and elegant change to the way flags work. Now, when you flag an email, that email gets pinned to the top of your Inbox, so it’s always right there – instantly available. The new release of Hotmail is rolling out now and will be available to all our customers within a few weeks.

Finding important email

We looked at what people are really doing in their inboxes and found some very interesting trends. We found that almost everyone has a way to mark certain messages as “important,” and we found an approach that we believe improves the experience for everyone.

Mark Unread

One of the most popular ways of identifying messages that you want to return to is by marking them as unread, and then using the “unread filter” to view them. This works fairly well, since “mark unread” is well-supported in virtually every email client, and you even have keyboard shortcuts to make it fast and easy. But there’s a big problem with this method: new mail that you receive is automatically marked as unread. So your Inbox can quickly become cluttered, and it can be hard to find those important messages.

Move to folder

Another way to keep track of important messages is to move them to a folder, perhaps one called “Important”, and then visit that folder periodically. There are two problems with this approach. First, you have to choose between filing a message as “Important” or filing it where it belongs (perhaps your “Shopping” folder). Second, you have to remember to go check the folder!

Flag

Flags are also commonly used to track important messages. Most email services and clients support flags. But flags have their own problems. Just like folders, you have to remember to check the flagged folder or Quick View. And flagging a message still leaves it in the message list, which can keep your Inbox cluttered.

Making flags work

Hotmail has made a simple and elegant change to the way flags work. Now when you flag an email, three things happen:

  • It immediately moves to the top of your Inbox
  • It is marked as flagged, just like before
  • It shows up in the Flagged Quick View, just like before

Here’s a peek at my Inbox, with a few messages flagged:

Inbox with a few flagged messages on top

The flagged emails are right at the top of my Inbox where I can find them easily. Unflagging a message makes it go back to where it came from in the message list, and it’s easy to flag or unflag a message just by clicking on the flag icon in the message list. Flagged messages show up at the top of the Inbox even if they are in other folders, which makes it easy to stay organized and still keep important messages right up front.

The new Flagging isn’t for everyone

We think the new flagging behavior is a simple and elegant solution to keeping on top of your most important email. But we also realize that some people loved the way that flags worked before and don’t want any change. No problem! You can get the old flag behavior back instantly just by closing the flagged area at the top of your Inbox.

First, collapse the flagged area by clicking on the collapse chevron:

The collapse chevron

Then, click on the close box:

The close box - to close the section

 

That’s it! Now your flags behave just as they did before.

If you want to turn the new flag behavior back on later, just go to options, and click on “Flagging” under the “Customizing Hotmail” section:

Options for flagging

Power users want it all

Some power users will want to use the new flagging behavior without giving up the old flag behavior. They want it all! Typically, these folks were using flags to identify messages that they want to come back to later, but that aren’t necessarily important, and they want to keep that behavior. But they like the idea of having important messages show up at the top of the Inbox. So they really need two different behaviors.

Hotmail has three new features that make this easy: personal categories, custom Quick Views, and customized Instant Actions.

Now this is definitely for power users, but then again, power users are usually the folks who want it all! Let’s see how it works:

First, we’ll create a category for “messages to come back to later” – let’s call it “For Review.” In the folder list on the left-hand side of your Inbox, just click on “New category” under “Quick views” and then type “For Review”:

Quick views list

Next, we’ll go to our Flagged messages by clicking on the Flagged Quick View. We’ll select all the messages and then categorize them as “For Review” using the new Category menu. Just select all the messages, then click on the Categories menu, click the checkbox next to “For Review” then click “Apply” at the bottom of the menu:

Categories menu with check boxes

Now that we have all of our “For Review” messages properly categorized, we can un-flag them. With the same messages selected, just click on the “Mark as” menu and select “Unflagged”:

"Mark as" menu

Perfect! Now we have all our old flagged messages in a new Quick View “For Review.” One last thing to do: Make it easy to mark new messages as “For Review” in just one click. For that, we’re going to customize the Instant Actions in the Inbox. We’ll make a new Instant Action to add the ‘For Review’ Category, and we’ll put the icon for this new Instant Action right next to the flag icon. Just go to Options, click on “Instant Actions” under “Customize Hotmail”, then click the “Add Actions” menu and select “Categorize” and select “For Review” as the category to use. You can use “Move up” and “Move down” to position your instant action where you want it, and then click Save.

Add Categorize action

That’s all there is to it! Now we’ve got it all: Flags to keep our most important messages at the top of the Inbox, a new “For Review” Category for those messages that we want to come back to later, and both “Flag” and “For Review” as Instant actions that we can access in a single click.

Hotmail is the best place to manage your email

The new flag behavior is rolling out now as part of the release that also adds new features for managing Newsletters, Deals, and other notifications. We expect the release to be in the hands of all of our customers in the next few weeks.

We hope you enjoy the new flagging behavior and all the other new features for managing your email. Let us know what you think – we love the feedback. And thanks for using Hotmail.

Dick Craddock - Group Program Manager, Hotmail

78 Comments
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  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    I wonder how many clusters do Hotmal Team update in one work day? And how many clusters all–Hotmail has.

  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    After almost 1 month since updated to Wave 5 has been rolled out - I see no update on my second Hotmail account... It is very annoying when we have to wait so long. I hope that few weeks (as you mentioned) not turn into few months. Or... next time please be more accurate and tell the truth - it will take few months.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Same.  No Update.  You guys really fail at rolling out these updates.  No offense.

  • my hotmail account has not been updated yet-how much longer do i have to wait before i can use the new features?

  • Safenet
    2 Posts

    Any plans for Windows Live to add an RSS Reader into Hotmail? SImilar to how Google offers Gmail and Google Reader. Perhaps even have my feeds sync from Windows Live Mail and Hotmail?

    My life would be a lot easier if I could access my RSS feeds on the web via Hotmail!

  • Jobinoy
    9 Posts

    It still doesn't work with categorizing mails as newsletters automatically... i categorized them in the inbox with the category column (which isn't shown by default).

    mails that are coming from the same sender than another newsletter (that i already categorized as newsletter) are not automatically categorized as newsletters...

    Is that working with someone else?

  • brianm76
    61 Posts

    Oh, forgot to add that this maybe something you could offer as an added benefit of paid subscribers to Hotmail Plus as well :)

  • brianm76
    61 Posts

    I will echo some of the comments on this post and add that I would like to see an option for users to opt in for updates from the hotmail site itself.  SImilar to the way you coudl w/ Gmail when they started rolling their updates out recently.  Users there were able to opt in to the update sooner than it being rolled out to their account.  I think this would serve a purpose as well since you would have a wider range of "test subjets" across multiple clusters helping to identify issues.  You could control the number of opt in's placing the link to get the updates in a place that one would need to look harder to find.

  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    BTW. Dick - after do all the steps I've wrote now again open your Sent folder in hotmail and mark message (you earlier add to Bills category) as UNREAD.

    As you can see in Quick View next to Bills category has been added +1 BUT there is still no message you have sent.

    Very strange.

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    I've got the update and I'd like to leave some feedback:

    1) Have more than 5 flags shown at the top of the inbox! When it gets to 5+, you should allow the user to drag the separation line down to show more flagged messages.

    2) Make the categories section in the message list there by default, not just when users have created a custom category/enabled the section in Options. It will make categories easier to discover!

    3) In WL Contacts, allow more fields to be created (e.g. as many email sections for a contact as needed!). Some of my friends have so many emails I have to make more than one contact for them!

    4) Never mind "virtually unlimited" or "5GB that grows with you", just call Hotmail storage unlimited. It'll have better publicity.

    Overall, I think the new update makes Hotmail the best email service... ever. It was before this update but this update has made it much better. With this feedback in consideration, Hotmail will be simply the best. :-)

  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    @Dick - another thing.

    I've found bug in how hotmail marks categorized messages. Here is how to reproduce it:

    1. Create in Quick View new Category - you can also use one from the default hotmail categories - let it be a category "Bills".

    2. Create new message and send it.

    3. Now open Sent hotmail folder and add message you have sent to "Bills" category.

    4. Open in Quick View - "Bills" category <- as you can see there is no message from Sent folder.

    It's very important and I think it's a bug.

    Please note that I have Category called "Hold" where I would like to have sent messages by me where I'm waiting on someone else to get back to me with crucial information.

    Thank you,

    Peter.

  • Jobinoy
    9 Posts

    @Paul Midgen: Seems not really working with categorising. Categorised all newsletter that were not automatically categorised, but next time it came it still wasn't categorised as Newsletter.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    @Dick - I have one more question.

    When Microsoft give possibility for users from Poland to enable: "Mobile alerts for new messages" AND will allow users from Poland to sign up for "Windows Live Mobile"?

    So far it's not possiblie, because we can not choose Poland from drop-down list. Please note that is also security concern since Hotmail enables it also for SAFE "Sign in" process when you are eg. in internet caffe.

    BTW. Gmail give this possibility from a long time.

    Thank you,

    Peter.

  • GregR
    3 Posts

    @Paul Midgen - thanks for clarification.  The missing piece for me was the user clicking the list-unsubscribe button, which would then send mail from the sender to the junk folder when the header isn't present.  I had read about it elsewhere and the takeaway I had from the other blog was that it would automatically go to spam if the header field didn't exist, without input from the user.

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    Newsletter's scheduled cleanup based on sender's e-mail address only is a bad idea. Example: I'm a user of polish auction website Allegro.pl. Everyday I receive a newsletter from them. But e-mails about things I'd bought or sold come from the same e-mail address. I want all newsletters older then 3 or 10 (7 would be best... but there is no such an option) days to be deleted, but I want to keep all e-mails about my transactions. I hope you understand what I mean.

  • @jobinoy - make sure you use the category chooser to mark the newsletters we missed as newsletters. that will create a rule that ensures future emails from that sender are correctly marked, and it helps the system learn.

    @gregr - the decision to junk, delete, unsubscribe, or folder a newsletter (or any other message) is entirely the user's. we give them the tools to do that if they want. they can also undo it (e.g. resubscribe, delete the rule, etc.) if they want.

    there is no penalty for not having the list-unsubscribe header, and the presence of the header is not a factor in message delivery. there is no deadline associated with this. use of the list-unsubscribe header in subscription-based messages (e.g. newsletters, forums, etc.) is just a best practice that we encourage everyone to adopt.

  • Jobinoy
    9 Posts

    Really excited about the new features, makes Hotmail much much better...

    Just recognized that until yet the automatic recognition for newsletters failed for almost every newsletter i receive, but i'm sure the system is learning and soon every newsletter will be correctly categorized...

    I just have one suggestion...

    In my case and i guess a lot of people see that the same way... I want t have certain emails or better categories of emails out of my inbox...

    i.e. i don't want all the newsletters in my main inbox or main view to my inbox

    So i would like to be able to create a rule for all emails categorized as Newsletter to move them into a special folder OR possibilities to customize the categories header, for example to create a view like "All, without Newsletters"

    Hope it's clear what i mean...

  • GregR
    3 Posts

    Paul Midgen made the following comment in another blog post last month, concerning the list-unsubscribe function (or lack of) in a newsletter:

    ---------

    "if a message flagged as a newsletter doesn't contain unsubscribe metadata, we use the sweep functionality to provide the same experience as if something like list-unsub was present and successfully executed, so the user experience will be consistent regardless of what the sender does.

    if the message is not flagged as a newsletter, this pseudo-unsubscribe behavior is unavailable, but users can still use sweep, rules, scheduled cleanup, etc. to manage the content from that sender."

    ---------

    My interpretation of this statement is that anything identified as a newsletter, either by Hotmail or by the user, that lacks the list-unsubscribe header will be permanently sent to the junk folder or suppressed/hidden in some other way.  Is that accurate?

    What would happen if a sender didn't have the list-unsubscribe, but then began adding it to new mail after this had already occurred?  Would they continue to go unseen by the Hotmail user?

  • GregR
    3 Posts

    We're looking at setting up the list-unsubscribe headerin future mail, but this will take some code work and testing because of how mail is created in our system.  Is there a recommended deadline for when this should be included in our newsletters and penalty for not meeting it?

    I know we need to include it, but I need to make it a priority to those who prioritize system changes.  Any information you can give to help would be appreciated.

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    I got it, I got it! :-D I'm so excited :-)

  • @langware - points taken, i've passed your feedback/comments along internally.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Paul Midgen,

    Thanks for the candid reply to some serious issues. Allow me to respond ...

    re: why bugs hang around a long time

    You mentioned "some things just never get done because there are too many other things with higher priority". I fully understand the need to prioritize bug fixes. But having known bugs exist for months/years is (IMHO) too long. There are several ways to address the problem of bugs hanging around for months/years:  (a) move staff from developing new features to fixing bugs in existing features, (b) hire more staff to work on fixing bugs in existing features, (c) set an automatic priority increase for aging bugs, (d) finding/fixing more bugs before a release is rolled out ... one suggestion for this is to have a formal Beta Test Program with customers participating ... but this only helps reduce bugs if the Hotmail Team commits to fixing those bugs reported during Beta Test BEFORE the release is rolled out. If bugs found during Beta Test are shelved (in order to meet a release date), then the Beta Test will not help address the problem of aging unsolved bugs. This problem (of aging bugs) is solvable ... does Microsoft have a policy on how long unsolved bugs are allowed to age before they must be fixed?

    re: why don't we do a better job documenting stuff

    Yes, this blog (and the links to it posted in the Windows Live Solution Center) do indeed help to document new features/functions. However, what percent of your total customer base actually read this blog or the Windows Live Solution Center (WLSC)? In addition to the documentation posted here and in the WLSC, why not directly communicate documentation to each customer when the new release is rolled out to the cluster that hosts their account? In that way, you are assured of 100% coverage in a new feature's documentation ... and your customers do not have to find new features by accident (and then wonder how to use them).

    re: why's it taking so long to get the release out

    I understand (and agree) to the need to roll out new releases carefully. I think part of the problem is "market overhang" ... announcing new releases well in advance to retain existing customers and obtain new customers. The problem, of course, is that this raises customer's expectations and causes anxious customers who grow tired of waiting for the new release. Consider the words used when announcing upcoming features. In Dick Craddock's blog of October 3, he ended with "We’ll have more on these features and others as they roll out in the coming weeks." Keywords here are "coming weeks". This set your customer's expectations for when the new release would be rolled out. Yes, some clusters may have seen the new release a few weeks after Dick's blog of Oct 3, but your customer's expectation (from Dick's use of the phrase "coming weeks") was probably that everyone would see the new release within weeks and not months (and it's now been six weeks since Dick's Oct 3rd post). Consider the words used to announce new releases and set the proper expectations for your customers. And if a release must be delayed because too many problems were found during the initial cluster roll-out, then post a blog that re-sets your customer's expectations.

    Again, I thank you for your candid reply. I know that software development and customer support are challenging tasks. I'm just asking you to please consider ways to fix bugs in a more timely manner (set a policy stating that the longest a known bug can remain unsolved is 12 months), provide direct documentation to your customers when a new release is rolled out to the cluster that hosts their account, and better set customer's expectations for when a release will be completely rolled out to all clusters.

    Thanks for listening!

  • @yawi - send me a private message with the SR numbers support gave you and we'll go from there. i cannot confirm what you should have seen a while ago since i don't know anything about your messages or the sending IPs.

  • Yawi
    3 Posts

    @Paul Midgen - many thanks for your replies, Paul.

    Everything is clear, excepted the first point about "messages not showing unsubscribe".

    Could you confirm me that an unsubscribe button should be displayed even with "old" hotmail version ? (I think so, because I saw it few months ago).

    Indeed, my IPs became yellow in SNDS in september 2011 after more than one year without any issue, then red.

    If List-unsubscribe header is not used due to bad reputation,  I cannot see how reputation could be improved now : number of "It is a spam" will increase I suppose.

    I have already contacted support about my concern, and finally I have obtained something like "Sorry if we cannot find solution. At this point, please follow technical Live hotmail guidelines."

    I think we have applied all best practises (SenderId, DKIM, SNDS, JMRP,easy unsubscribe, list cleanup) to handle our list of recipients (self-registered users database, not a bought listing).

    And despite the fact that complaint rate is very low (<0.1%), our emails are considered as spam ; it's why I was interested in previous blog "Hotmail declares war on graymail".

    If you could suggest me an exit way...

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    @Yawi

    I'm afraid that all Microsoft e-mails go to a junk folder :-)

  • @langware - we take customer suggestions very seriously, so i'll be seriously serious.

    re: why bugs hang around a long time

    anyone at microsoft can file a bug against any product the company makes, and there are lots of ways that customers get bugs into our tracking database as well. so just like anyone doing a serious software effort, we end up with more bugs than we can fix, so we prioritize, and some things just never get done because there are too many other things with higher priority.

    however, the squeaky wheel does get the oil, so keep advocating for the things you want to see us fix. it makes a difference.

    re: why don't we do a better job documenting stuff

    that's exactly what this blog is attempting to do right, and it's hard to get the timing and content right so that everyone's happy (or even 60% are happy), but we're trying. like the bugs, tell us what you want to see more of and we may surprise you!

    re: why's it taking so long to get the release out

    because there's only one way we'll do it, and that's the right way. a change this big going to that many servers has to be done carefully and in small chunks. no matter how thoroughly we test before releasing, we still find issues when deployment starts, and when we do we have to fix them before continuing.

    this conservative approach takes time but it pays off. it's true it means you end up waiting longer, but it's the difference between waiting for new features versus losing Hotmail for extended periods of time because we broke the whole thing.

    as to making it faster, one of our teams is dedicated solely to thinking about how to make deployment faster, and they're working on some killer new tools that will be used in future releases. trust me - after we've been working on new things for months on end, we're impatient to get the rollout done as well!

  • @ItsMeHere - i'm sorry to hear you had a crappy experience with the support team. this is what they should have had you do to recover your account.

    try a password reset (windowslivehelp.com/solution.aspx)

    if that fails, there's a process to validate you're the account owner and kick the bad guys out(support.live.com/eform.aspx). please answer the questions as completely as possible, but if you really don’t know some of the answers it’s okay to put “i don’t know.”

    if that doesn't work, let us know here on the blog.

  • @yawi - thanks for your questions/comments:

    re: messages not showing unsubscribe ux

    you won't see the new unsub features until your account is updated. as for the newsletters you send yourself, if you're seeing "red" in SNDS, the reputation of the IP you're sending from could be bad enough that we don't allow the unsubscribe URL to be shown to the user at all. in the bad old days this was a prime attack vector used in spam posing as a newsletter.

    if you're concerned about your IP reputation at Hotmail (red? i would be), please contact the sender support team immediately (support.msn.com/eform.aspx) and they will take a look and see what can be done.

    re: do we accept URLs in list-unsubscribe

    yes.

    re: is there a way for a bulk sender to ... newsletter

    sort of. if your message includes valid unsubscribe information (e.g. list-unsubscribe header) and the sending address is authenticated and consistently associated with newsletter traffic, our system will very likely pick it up as a newsletter.

    re: messages from The Windows Blog showing up as suspicious and/or getting junked

    the team that runs Inside Windows Live, the blog, and the associated mail services is aware of this problem, and i'm working with them to resolve it.

  • vasudev
    28 Posts

    Yes, I also support the suggestion of  'user-sizable, and independently scrollable, pane at the top of the inbox page for flagged messages '

  • vasudev
    28 Posts

    Tried 'forgotten attachment reminders' but doesn't work for me. Never reminds though in the mail there are words like 'attachment' 'attached' . On what basis this option work. Changed options in 'Attachments' option also.Please let me know.

  • vasudev
    28 Posts

    Nice features. How about providing different colored flag icons for instant action instead of boxes? Also we have to open Hotmail always in maximized Window as dont get horizontal scrollbar in resized smaller window.

  • HOTMAIL support is TOTALLY USELESS if you have a problem of a hacked account. My account was hacked over a year ago. I received a few lame responses and replied half a dozen times with information to validate my ownership of the account and nothing was done. I asked  that if NOTHING else be done that AT LEAST the account would be deleted to prevent sending spam or bogus emails from an account that people knew I sent email from. It all started with a "HELP! I'm stuck in London with no money! Please send me $200 so I cna get home!" which I forwarded to MicroSloth who did...NOTHING.

    Be forewarned, so long as you have no issue with Hotmail it works fine. The moment you have a problem? TOO BAD 4 U!!!!

  • @Ronald Thanks for the calendar feedback. We're definitely looking at those ideas.

  • @langware hey, just sent you a friend request.

  • ¡Firedog
    16 Posts

    @Ronald

    > Add week numbers to the mini-calendar on the top left side

    You'll probably find that the problem is that there's no consensus on how to number weeks. Although there is an ISO standard observed in some parts of the world, many large countries use a different system. You can see the variations on this page:

    www.pjh2.de/.../wnd.php

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @MondayBlues, trulyindian, and controlz:

    Thanks for the compliments. My suggestions for improving Hotmail are intended to help make the product more customer friendly.

    I must admit to being confused as to: (a) why Microsoft allows known bugs in Hotmail's interface to remain unfixed for such along time (bugs I've reported in June 2009 still remain unfixed), (b) why Microsoft does not do a better job of disseminating documentation for Hotmail's new (and useful) features (customers find new features by accident), and (c) why it's taking so long for the newest release to be propagated to all accounts (Microsoft does have many clusters running Hotmail ... so the rollout will take time, but it's been over a month since Dick Craddock first announced the new release in his blog of Oct 3, so one would hope that the rollout of this new release can now be accelerated).

  • Ronald
    22 Posts

    Forgive me if the following suggestions for Hotmail Calendar are a bit off- topic:

    Add week numbers to the mini-calendar on the top left side

    Double click to enter appointment (instead of clicking on Add button)

    Show tasks below the mini-calendar on the left  as a "to-do list"

    Add synchronization of tasks with Outlook

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    @langware should be on the Hotmail team. :-) Still waiting for the new features.... will everyone have them by the end of December, do you think?

  • Yawi
    3 Posts

    Amazing, I've just received an email from  "The Windows Blog - Automated Email (wvblog@microsoft.com)"  in junk email  folder :

    Authentication-Results: hotmail.com; sender-id=softfail (sender IP is 72.233.97.181) header.from=wvblog@microsoft.com; dkim=none header.d=microsoft.com; x-hmca=fail

  • Yawi
    3 Posts

    About new features and greymail especially :

    - List-unsubscribe : header included in the newsletter I have sent for two weeks seems not to be taken into account.  I can not see any button to unsubscribe (I must precise that my own Live account has not been updated yet). Moreover, SNDS says that my emails are probably spam (filter result = red) despite best practises . Is url version of List-unsubscribe still supported ?

    - New newsletter category : is there a way for a bulk-sender to declare himself that an email is a newsletter ?

    Thanks

  • Another piece of Brilliant thought by @langware. I completely agree with him.

    @langware: I think you should be in the Hotmail Team. SERIOUSLY!!! :)

  • Once again langware hits the nail on the head !   Hotmail users shouldn't be finding features by accident or having less than clear information/documentation about them.

    E.g. from personal experience:  when aliases first came out the blog entry was certainly less than clear (IMO) regarding how many one can have.  Dharmesh wrote, "you can add up to five aliases per year to your Hotmail account, up to fifteen aliases in total."  I had assumed, based on the language used, that I could have a maximum of 5 aliases simultaneously for the first year -- **even if it meant removing one so that it could be replaced with another.**  I thought the only restriction was that I not exceed 5 aliases. Then, I thought, for the next two years I could add 5 more each year until I had a total of 15.  

    So, being under this impression, I created some aliases.  Then I wanted to remove a few that I didn't like after all and wanted to replace them with others.  I was informed after trying to create another alias that I had used up my alias allotment and to try again "later" !!  So, now I only have TWO aliases in my account instead of five, because I was not warned -- not in the blog ***nor on the alias creation page of the hotmail account*** -- that I could not replace one alias with another without it being counted against me.  

    IOW, I thought  I was forbidden from having more than 5 aliases at once the first year.  (I thought, if I already had 5 aliases, that  I could only add one as long as I removed one of the others.)  

    I didn't know that, to the contrary,  I was ACTUALLY forbidden from **going through the process of creating an alias** more than 5 times !  That's VERY different, and I'm now stuck with only two aliases and not able to add more until.... when ?  February or so ?  I'm penalized for Hotmail's lack of clarity !  :-(

    Please, do what langware suggests: inform users better (directly in the inboxes) and with greater clarity, not only in the announcements but also on the various features/options pages within Hotmail itself !

    Thanks !  :-)

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Steve Kafka,

    Thanks ... found the toggle option.

    When a new Hotmail release (or new functions/features) are rolled out to a cluster, why not send an email with documentation on the new features/functions (or a link to a page with documentation) to all customer accounts hosted on that cluster?

    Do you really want your customers finding new features by accident (after they are rolled out to a cluster) and/or trying to figure out how to use new features/functions without any documentation?

    Hint: not every customer reads these blogs or views the Windows Live Solution Center site. Why not deliver documentation directly to your customers when new features are made available on the cluster that hosts their account?

  • @langware - Good find, "forgotten attachment reminders" is a new feature that's part of the bigger update that is currently in progress.   You can toggle this feature on and off in the options page under Writing email > Sent message confirmations.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    I just discovered a useful Hotmail feature ... perhaps it's been around for awhile; perhaps it was just introduced with the new release ... I don't remember reading about this feature ...

    If the text of an email mentions including an attachment (such as "see attached file for ..."), but one forgets to actually attach a file to the message, an alert pops up (when clicking Send) stating ...

    "Just checking. It looks like you mentioned attachments but didn't add any."

    The alert also has two buttons: "Send Now" and "Go Back". There's also a check box that says "Don't show this message again."

    Nice. Anyone know how long this feature has been around?

    Also, I looked through Hotmail's options screens and could not find where to toggle the choice to show/not-show this specific alert.

  • ...and the other way 'round: it would be great to have more Outlook and/or Windows Live features in Hotmail's webmail: e.g. two of my favorites:

    AUTO-CORRECT (including auto-correcting of spelling, auto-complete of common words (like months, days of the week, etc.), auto-change of double hyphen (--) to a dash, etc. -- and that we can add custom auto-correct items as in Outlook), and...

    EDIT SUBJECT (How often I would like to change a friend's message from "You gotta read this" to something more accurate !  And I'd like to do this as easily as I can in Outlook; in Hotmail I have to click to forward the email (to myself) and change the subject line at that point.  Unnecessarily complicated, that.)

  • gorzko
    24 Posts

    Looking forward for a new features! If I may suggest something: it would great to have all those awesome Hotmail features (aliases, graymail, extended flags support) available in Windows Live Mail.

  • +1 for @akshay2000: Infact the whole toolbar should be static. This has been one of the design problems of Hotmail not sorted uptill now. When reading a long message we scroll down but we have to scroll it up again to get back to Inbox or make other commands because Toolbar is not static. HOTMAIL TEAM PLEASE FIX THIS!!!

    +1 for @mondayblues : ....At the risk of....... very useful feedback from this group, no ?  :-D

    +1 for @ronald's: all suggestions

  • @Ronald – These are all great suggestions, and ones that we’re considering adding. Keep ‘em coming!

  • @langware – thanks for the suggestions on the behavior of flagged messages. When we designed the feature, the first thing we did was gather data on how people use flags. We found that there was a striking “knee in the curve” for flag users right at 5 messages – very few users have more than five items flagged. We wanted to focus on simplicity and avoid having extra controls in order to keep the UI clean, so we choose to optimize for the common use case. However, we’ll definitely listen to feedback as folks use the feature, and we’ll continue to look at the data. It’s entirely possible that a lot more people will start using flags now, and that over time they will have more flagged messages. (On a personal note, now that I have the feature, I find that I have more flagged items. So, your feedback resonates with me.) Thanks again.

  • @abm, @langware –good suggestions about the flow that happens after a message is sent. We’re looking into making improvements in the behavior here. BTW, you can turn off the “extra page” (we call it the Sent Mail Confirmation page) by going to Options->Sent message confirmations (under “Writing email”). The other suggestions are good, too; we’ll give some thought to better contact management.

  • +1 for Ronald's first suggestion (sending through other accounts' own servers -- something every other provider that I know of does, those which offer the feature of sending from other accounts, that is.

  • Ronald
    22 Posts

    @Dick Craddock

    The new features seem to be a huge improvement. Imho, after the update, Hotmail lacks 4 essential / really convenient features:

    When you compose a new message, you can choose to send it from another accounts (e.g. your ISP's etc.). At the moment though, mail is being sent through Hotmail servers, instead of using the ISP's SMTP servers for that particular account. As a consequence some recipients see “From x@hotmail.com on behalf of x@example.com”

    More frequent retrievals of new mail on other mail accounts (pop3) or at least the possibility to manually check for new mail by pressing a button

    Enable dragging and dropping attachments in and out of a message (when composing and receiving mail)

    Make it possible to send password protected Office files (and maybe other file types). Now it is impossible (This file couldn't be scanned for viruses and wasn't added to your message.)

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Dick Craddock:

    I acknowledge that the following Hotmail issue is not a bug but a "design choice", but it's one you may want to reconsider ...

    The new flags feature apparently only supports 5 flagged messages displayed at the top of the inbox. When more than 5 flagged messages exist, one must click the "Show all flagged messages" link (to review all flagged messages), and then click the "Inbox" link to go back (to the inbox). Too much clicking!

    Why not implement a user-sizable, and independently scrollable, pane at the top of the inbox page for flagged messages ...  so customers can choose the size of the pane (i.e., how many flagged messages are displayable in the pane), and if necessary one can use the flag pane's scroll bar to scroll/review all flagged messages (without having to click once to see all flagged messages and click again to go back to the inbox).

    I think that would be a more user friendly (and better) design choice. Please consider this improvement for the next release.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    I agree with langware about this bug ->"Return to inbox" link does not work

    Either fix that link OR when the message is sent, return to inbox with notification box at the top saying "Your message has been sent". (Means no need for extra page).

    Also, while composing the email let the users edit the contact's name when selected from the list. Like if I select "Walter S." <walters_show@rocketmail.com>, I should be able to edit the name within the compose view like "Walter Sean" (rather leaving the page and goto contacts section and edit). The contact info should be updated permanently once the email is sent. Also, the system should enlist the unsaved email addresses in auto-suggestions.

  • Jobinoy
    9 Posts

    I really can't wait for the changes.

    Love that the move and flag as read possibility is coming and the new flag and greymail system. Really improves Hotmail a lot!

    Would also like to get moved to the pilot cluster :-) if that ever happens...

  • Like MondayBlues said, you should put some of us in the test pilot cluster to see all the new features. That way, you can have more feedback from us.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Dick Craddock:

    Re your statement that "The text is wrong on those and should be fixed."

    I was hoping that you'd leave the text alone and actually make the link do what the text says :)

  • Oops.  Sorry.  I didn't know the html tags wouldn't work.  :-(

  • Dick wrote: <i>We’ve added a neat feature in the release that is rolling out now that will let you set up your account as you describe. We have “instant actions” in the message list, and you can customize them. In particular, you can add “Move to Folder” as a customized action and even “mark read” when moving. So, you should be able to set your Inbox up the way you want.</i>

    Fantastic !  I'm looking forward to it !!  :-)  :-)

    Also, Dick wrote: <i>We always roll our new releases out gradually, to give us an opportunity to learn and respond to feedback. We realize that some folks will want to get access to the new stuff sooner, so we’re thinking of ways that we can make that possible. </i>

    At the risk of making a selfish suggestion: since those of us who view this blog are obviously also those most anxious for news of updates/improvements from the Hotmail team -- and most disappointed when the updates are not rolled out as soon as we'd like (or not to OUR accounts) -- why not put all of US here on some list to get to see your updates as you roll them out.  I'm sure we'd all LOVE to be at the top (or near the top) of your list for test-driving your new features !!  And you could certainly expect lots of early and very useful feedback from this group, no ?  :-D

  • @landware - yep, you're right. The text is wrong on those and should be fixed.

  • I'd like to suggest a design change. The 'Full View' button is right inside the message. So, when I scroll a little bit, there is no way to see the message full screen except scrolling back to top of the message. I'd rather go with some static bar with 'Full View' button always visible. This way, users will be able to switch to full view in middle of the messages.

  • langware
    154 Posts

    @Dick Craddock:

    Thanks for your response ... I am confused by your statement that the two issues I mentioned are not bugs but design choices.

    In this case ...

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    ... I reported a problem where clicking a menu item that states "Open link in new tab" does NOT open the associated link in a new tab, but instead opens a duplicate copy of one's inbox. It may have been a design choice to perform an action that does not relate to the text of the menu choice, but  that would really be stretching the definition of "design choice" don't you think?! Since the menu item says "Open link in new tab" and clicking the menu choice does NOT open the link in a new tab (but instead opens another copy of ones inbox), I would call that a bug!

    In this case ...

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    ... I reported a problem where clicking a link that says "Return to inbox" does NOT return to ones inbox, but instead returns to the message previously viewed. Again, the action performed when clicking a link does not relate to the text of the link. Since the link says "Return to inbox" but clicking it causes the previously viewed message to be displayed, I would call that a bug.

    I can understand the need to first fix bugs that affect stability before fixing cosmetic bugs ... but in the case of the first bug mentioned above, four months have elapsed since the bug was reported and no solution has been implemented. Does Hotmail have so many stability bugs that, after four months, bugs like the ones above cannot also be fixed?

    Please have another detailed look at the issues I reported ... I think you will see that these are really bugs and not design choices. Please try to schedule implementation of corresponding fixes in the near future. These bugs are repeatable and should really not be very difficult to fix. Your customers need to get a warm feeling that bugs reported in existing features will be fixed in a timely manner.

    Thanks!

  • @nektar - this is good feedback, thanks for pointing it out. We'll look into improvements that we can make to "My friend has been hacked"

  • @MondayBlues – good suggestions. I’ve passed along your suggestions around security and passwords to the team that runs LiveID. They are making big investments in this area, and the feedback is helpful. On your other suggestions (mark read when moved to Trash; provide an “archive” button): We’ve added a neat feature in the release that is rolling out now that will let you set up your account as you describe. We have “instant actions” in the message list, and you can customize them. In particular, you can add “Move to Folder” as a customized action and even “mark read” when moving. So, you should be able to set your Inbox up the way you want. We’ll be writing more about this feature as we roll out.

  • @langware - thanks for you comments - we really do appreciate them. In the case of the two issues you reference, they are not really bugs, but design choices. I happen to agree with you that a different design choice might be more effective, so we're looking at making changes. In general, we fix a lot of bugs in the product with every release, and always try to make the product more stable as we go. We priortize fixing bugs that affect stability over fixing issues like the ones you describe. That doesn't mean they aren't important, just that we really want to think through design changes so that we don't go back-and-forth a lot.

  • Several folks have asked these questions in one form or another:

    “Why don’t I have the update yet?” or “Why does it take so long” – We always roll our new releases out gradually, to give us an opportunity to learn and respond to feedback. We realize that some folks will want to get access to the new stuff sooner, so we’re thinking of ways that we can make that possible. This time around, we actually announced the upcoming changes a few weeks before we started the release, so it really does seem longer. We’ll do another blog post to remind folks of the new features once everything is rolled out.

    “Why do you announce things before they are available for everyone?” – We can either announce things early, when people are first starting to get the new release or wait and announce after everyone has it. The issue with waiting is that some people will get the feature early and want to know more about it. That was certainly the case with the new flags behavior. We got clear feedback from the folks on the pilot cluster that they wanted to know more about the changes to flags – why we did it, the best way to use it, and even how to turn it off. So we wrote that up, and we’ll link to the blog post from the help forums, which we think will be helpful for people when they first encounter the feature.

  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    Dick, you are taking about new Update in hotmail - I really don't know what to say since I see that my hotmail account is still without update.

    What should I say? Cool?

    No it's not cool since you are forcing all hotmail users to wait for update and it takes NOT one or two week max but in MY case even 4 (yes four) MONTHS! (I'm talking about calendar feature in hotmail inbox view, which you introduced in 4th July 2011)

    It's ridiculous and not professional.

    Please do something with it. We all want faster hotmail updates.

    Thanks,

    Peter.

  • @ Dick Craddock : Agree that these updates are very useful !!! But why does it so long time to execute these updates. I think you first mentioned these updates in a blogpost dated 4th Oct. but still no updates. Its already more than one month how much more time is needed???

    completely agree with @IceX PR: First update and then tell. Or tell at least at the time when you can update all the accounts within a week or two. (Just like Gmail introduced new version within two weeks of first making it public that they are releasing a new version.

    completely agree with @langware: There are MANY MANY known bugs in Hotmail UI and dont know how many times they have been reported by users but no resolution. Do you guys focus on just releasing new features??

    @pitman : Please stop your comments which have no value for this forum. If you want to earn backlinks for your website(as it seems your purpose) then try other General blogs on wordpress and Blogspot. There are millions of blogs on these sites so you can get a number of backlinks.

  • controlz
    145 Posts

    "We expect the release to be in the hands of all of our customers in the next few weeks." Before December? That would be great.

    The new flagging system is going to be brilliant!

  • nektar
    8 Posts

    Today I got a suspitious e-mail which looks to come from a friend as Hotmail shows their name and e-mail address in the from field in my inbox. However, the "My Friend has been Hacked" option was not available and I could not report my friend. Looking more closely I discovered something really clever. The spammer has abused another throw-away Hotmail address to send his malitious e-mail from and he placed my friend's e-mail information after the "on behalf of" part. So, the mail actually comes from an e-mail address controlled by the spammer in Hotmail which is not on my friend list but they made the e-mail look that is comes from a friend by placing my friend's e-mail address after the "on behalf of <my friend's e-mail>" part. As my friend's e-mail is not a Hotmail address but is simply a Live ID registered e-mail from their local ISP used only for WL Messenger purposes, I cannot report my friend's account as hacked. This is a really clever idea. You get an e-mail looking to come from a friend which you canot report as hacked because your friend's e-mail is a Live ID registered address which is not on Hotmail. Since "My Friend has been Hacked" feature does not work for Live ID accounts that are not also on Hotmail, you cannot report it. And yet, the e-mail looks to come from your friend directly and all the actions you perform (Mark as Junk, etc) seem to be directed to their e-mail address, whilst in reality the e-mail comes from another throw-away Hotmail address under the spammer's control which is placed before the "on behalf of <your friends e-mail address>" and which any action you perform will not be directed to that throw-away address. Please investigate as this seems to be a very clever use of the "on behalf of" system which defeats the "My Freiend has been Hacked" Feature.

  • Julio
    1 Posts

    It would be nice if you bring these feature to the public attention after being deployed, not before.  By the time it really gets deployed, I'll forget what they were and how to use them.

  • N6600
    1 Posts

    It's great, but is there a chance getting this feature on Windows Phone 7, too? I use Hotmail on my mobile more than in the web browser... Anyway, Hotmail rocks and I love it.

  • I tend to agree with oderrez and Peter: this is the second blog entry mentioning that these exciting new features will be out "within a few weeks."   Does that mean we're going to have to wait yet another five weeks before anyone actually sees any of the changes ?

    Way Off-Topic:  Feature Requests:  1) Allow longer passwords for more security, 2) Allow special characters in security question's answer for a similar reason, 3) Allow blocking of mail based on the sender (the 'from' name), not just domain & email address, 4) Have unread messages that we manually move to the trash automatically marked as 'read,' 5) Have an "archive" folder (hide-able, for those who don't want to see/use it) and a corresponding 'archive' button on the toolbar so that those who like piling their email in a single archive can do so with a single click (like Gmail, myopera).

  • langware
    154 Posts

    The new features (flags) are nice, but I am still waiting for known bugs in Hotmail's User Interface to be fixed.

    One bug was reported 4 months ago ...

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    and another was reported a month ago ...

    windowslivehelp.com/thread.aspx

    Both bugs were recreated by Windows Live Solution Center moderators, and forwarded to the Hotmail Product Group ... yet no solutions have been implemented.

    Rolling out new Hotmail features is nice, but what is your policy about fixing known bugs in existing features??? How long must one wait for a known bug to be fixed? Are you committed to fixing known bugs in existing features?

  • Sir Peter
    11 Posts

    Very nice, BUT my hotmail account is still without UPDATE :(

    Why does it take so long?

  • Excellent, so simple but so useful

  • oderrez
    1 Posts

    So, i'm still waiting for this update ! :(

    It's so long !