Mixed reactions to new Hotmail

Microsoft Corp. is totally revamping its Hotmail e-mail service this summer in an effort to curtail the popularity of Google Inc.’s Gmail client.


The update will allow users to send 50 MB attachments — up to a whopping 10 GBs of total attachments per message — and push e-mail support for mobile phones via Exchange ActiveSync. Additionally, the company is adding tight integration with the Web version of Office 2010, including the ability to edit Office document attachments directly in the e-mail window.


With some organizations moving to Gmail and Google Apps for their e-mail and office productivity needs, one could speculate that Microsoft also wants a piece of the action.


“You can retire your Doc Martens now, and grow out your Caesar haircut. Hotmail has been updated,” wrote Susan Steade, a blogger with Good Morning Silicon Valley.


“We joke. Despite its 1999 vibe, Microsoft’s email service actually was updated in 2008. But two years being an eternity in that business, it’s been steamrollered by Gmail in the interim.”


Download Squad blogger Lee Matthews wrote that while he is excited about the increased competition, he is unlikely to jump off of the Gmail bandwagon for his serious, business-related e-mails. The hang-up: “Those ridiculous, Incredimail-esque footer advertisements.”


“If you want me to take Hotmail seriously, Microsoft, stop modifying my email messages that way,” he wrote. “It’s one thing to stamp a simple ‘sent from my iPhone/Blackberry/Hotmail account’ tagline, but tacking on a link to a contest entry?”


He added that these annoying advertising footers would prevent him from sending professional e-mails. “’I’m contacting you to conduct business in via e-mail… and by the way, you should totally check out the awesome, free prizes you may already have won!’ No thanks,” Matthews wrote.


ComputerWorld U.S. blogger Preston Gralla was significantly more impressed with Microsoft’s new offering. Gralla, who wrote that he’s been using a beta version of the service for about a month, was particularly excited about Hotmail’s integration with Outlook.


“The Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector integrates Hotmail with Outlook,” Gralla wrote. “Within Outlook, you can read your Hotmail e-mail, send e-mail via Hotmail, and so on, giving you the best of both worlds — the sophistication of a fully featured email client with the accessibility of Web-based mail. True, there are ways you can use Outlook with Gmail, but the integration simply isn’t nearly as good.”


Technologizer’s Harry McCracken wrote that Microsoft’s Office Web Apps integration still appears to lag behind Gmail’s Google Docs integration.


“There are lots of holes in the Web Apps’ functionality, and you don’t get anything like Gmail’s nifty PDF viewer,” he wrote. “What I’d really like to see is some sort of open standard that lets Hotmail users open documents in Google Docs and Gmail users open them in Office Web Apps.”


Neowin.net blogger Tom Warren wrote that Microsoft is “onto a winner” with its new Hotmail upgrade, citing security and push e-mail as top features.


“The new features and security efforts will not go un-noticed and those who are struggling with POP3 access on their iPhone or Android devices will welcome the new push mail option,” he wrote. “Microsoft has a strong focus on security with the new Hotmail. The new security features will make webmail safer for every Hotmail user and will likely cut down on the number of accounts that are hijacked each month.”


New York Times’ Bits blogger Ashley Vance summed up the refresh.

“The rather clear overall message was that Microsoft is hip and with it when it comes to e-mail, not overrun by spam, and a provider of large inboxes and a place where social networks commingle with online document storage in some sort of blissfully productive and yet playful consumer/worker paradise,” she wrote.

“Or something like that.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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