Microsoft Offers Updated Hotmail

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Microsoft Corp. has closed the public testing period for Windows Live Hotmail and has begun a month of the migration process for users of this major upgrade of its Hotmail email service, the company provides Monday.Windows Live Hotmail, dubbed the ‘ largest update since the Hotmail Web service debuted in 1996, has been tested in about 20 million users since Microsoft first allowed people outside the company to try to mid-2005, said Brooke Richardson, Microsoft product group manager for a popular site for e-mail.

“It ‘safer, faster and has more features than Hotmail. And’ essential to set up our existing customers,” he said. Windows Live Hotmail has a brand new code foundation of Microsoft to make more rapid improvements in what had become a challenge for Hotmail decade-old code base, he said. “And ‘much more stable foundation, we innovate,” he said.

A major challenge for Microsoft will be to convince users of Hotmail for a long time that the new version is passed, said Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner Inc.. “Consumers are becoming accustomed to the things I use daily as your e-mail service,” he said. “When you make changes, it is sometimes a difficult transition for consumers.”

Microsoft will not autocratically move users to the new version. For now, Microsoft will give Hotmail users the option to continue using the old version if they do not want to move to the upgraded version. But at some point, everyone will be unilaterally migrated to Windows Live Hotmail, she said.

New users will be registered automatically by Windows Live Hotmail, but as any user of this new service, which will have to choose between two user interfaces: a “classic” layout that closely resembles the old Hotmail or the new interface, which was designed to resemble Microsoft Outlook email and synchronization of desktop applications, he said.

Later this month Microsoft will release a free software for connecting Windows Live Hotmail with Outlook, previously charged to the company’s capabilities. Microsoft Office Outlook Connector for MSN service users can use their webmail account in Outlook, as well as an e-mail, contacts and folder synchronization for free. In the future, Microsoft is releasing a desktop client for Windows Live Hotmail called Windows Live Mail. Windows Live Mail is an extension for Outlook Express and Windows Mail in Windows Vista.

But all these names, brands and components leave Microsoft with a history of fragmentation Web mail market that could lead to confusion among consumers, said Gartner’s Baker. “Another major challenge is to manage the message,” he said.

With regard to improving safety, bear each e-mail a “safety bar” that indicates whether the message is from a known, unknown or potentially fraudulent. Protection against spam has also been improved. Windows Live Hotmail also has a mobile version so that its estimated 280 million users can access the service from mobile phones and handheld devices with a Web browser.


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