July 28, 2005 4:51 PM PDT

Microsoft cooking up more features for Hotmail

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REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft has demonstrated a more powerful version of its Hotmail Web-based e-mail program that is in the testing stages.

The software maker on Thursday showed a version of Hotmail that works a lot more like desktop e-mail programs such as Outlook or Outlook Express, offering options such as a preview of incoming e-mails, antiphishing features and the ability to block or unblock specific senders.

The demo came during a presentation by Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi at Microsoft's Financial Analysts Meeting here. Microsoft's move comes amid a renewed battle over Web-based e-mail, which has Google, Yahoo and others competing to offer more storage and other features in an attempt to win consumers to their e-mail service.

The antiphishing feature parallels work Microsoft is doing with the next version of Internet Explorer. If a suspicious e-mail arrives, the test version of Hotmail does not display the message. Instead, it warns the user that the e-mail appears to be potentially fraudulent and asks them if they want to block or allow that message and any other e-mails from that sender.

Microsoft also showed potential new features for its MSN Messenger instant-messaging service. These include a shared file folder that is available to buddies and an indicator that shows the virus condition of another user's PC, provided that buddy is using Microsoft's OneCare subscription antivirus service.

In search, the company is focused on trying to move from search queries that return links to a search results page that can offer not only links, but also specific answers to questions, Mehdi said.

The new features are all part of Microsoft's efforts to catch up to Google and Yahoo and move ahead in other areas.

"I wouldn't say everything is rosy," Mehdi said. "We are still behind on some things."

Mehdi pointed to a narrowing gap even in those areas, however. He said that the company's research shows MSN Search is narrowing the gap between the quality of its search results and those of search king Google.

Microsoft also showed off a new feature in its MSN Toolbar that will allow developers to add "widgets," small plug-in programs that add features such as weather forecasts or other data snippets. Yahoo recently acquired Konfabulator, a small software program that offers its own version of Widgets that offer similar information in a slightly different way.


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1. Get rid of annoying banner ad.
2. Get rid of the second annoying banner ad.
3. Stop adding number of pages I need to go through to just see my inbox.
4. Hire graphic designers who actually understand color themes.
5. Sign up for gmail to see how things are done correctly.
Posted by CharlesJo.com (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Have Some Suggestions As Well
1. Stronger spam filtering. At least as strong as Yahoo! Mail and GMail.

2. Get rid of a lot of annoying banner ads. Maybe not like GMail, but something like Yahoo! Mail is good enough.

3. More storage. When AOL can give out 2GB, why can't Hotmail?

4. More accurate virus protection. I have several false alarms when I am 100% sure the file I want to send is virus-free.

5. GMail is a very successful web email. Please learn from them :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
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Competition is good
Although I do not expect it, I hope that Hotmail does neat things so it'll challenge YahooMail and Gmail to add even more features. Consumers win.
Posted by CharlesJo.com (34 comments )
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re; Hotmail improvements
I don't know why business journalists who cover Microsoft don't get it. The firm only moves to innovate after competitors start eating its lunch. Microsoft's Hotmail is a relic compared to Gmail and the coming improvements in Yahoo using the technology it acquired from Oddpost in July 2004.

Hotmail's design is an ergonomic nightmare that is cluttered up like a flea market at a drive-in movie parking lot on a summer Saturday afternoon. The style sheet forces you to view tiny fonts even if using 1024 x 768 on a 17" monitor. The composition space is small and message handling options are limited and almost primitive compared to other systems.

Maybe someone at Microsoft understands the gaps, but at the rate other firms are hiring top talent from Microsoft perhaps the last computer science major out the door will turn off the lights.
Posted by djysrv (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What Hotmail Really Needs!!!!!!!!!!
My Hotmail password continues to be hacked every day by spammers, and some of them send emails with trojans. I change my sixteen password every other day and it seems to do nothing to stop them. I use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols, and they hack it while I am asleep. There is group of them from the UK, Denmark, Germany and Brazil.

What Hotmail needs is some better password protection. Is there anything anyone can suggest I do to stop them? Continued emails to Microsoft with copies of blocked emails from these spammers go unanswered by Microsoft. I don't know if they are using service representatives from India or China. A few canned responses have all had Hindu sounding names. They appear to be either unaware of the seriousness of this problem, or they simply don't care.

A search of the internet on Google has revealed that other Hotmail users are suffering the same hacking problems that I am. Again, let me say it in case Microsoft is monitoring these posts. Hotmail needs a better password protection scheme. I would love biometrics if there is some add on device using one of my USB ports. Barring that, the wunderkind at Microsoft really need to develop something quickly to fix this.
Posted by Terry Gay (127 comments )
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What are you saying?!?!?
Are you saying some organization is targeting your email specifically by cracking your password to access and meddle around in your inbox? Why would anyone do that? Or do you mean that people are getting spam messages with your Hotmail address as the reply?
Posted by locoHost (25 comments )
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