November 30, 2005 4:29 PM PST

Microsoft delivers Windows Live Mail beta

Microsoft has sent out a new test version of Windows Live Mail, part of the software maker's push to introduce Web-based counterparts to desktop products.

The beta version, sent out to testers this week, goes out under the banner of "Windows Live," launched earlier month. However, it is actually part of a longtime effort to revamp Hotmail, Microsoft's current free, Web-based e-mail service.

Microsoft is building Windows Live Mail from scratch, keeping Hotmail and its 215 million active users on a separate system, Brooke Richardson, a lead product manager in Microsoft's MSN division, said. The goal in rebuilding the service from the ground up is to improve performance and enable desktop-like e-mail features found in its Outlook program. An emerging programming technology known as AJAX is central to the effort, she said.

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Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft

The Windows Live package aims to provide Internet-based personal tools such blogging and instant messaging software, as well as the e-mail service. Microsoft expects the products to be supported by advertising, as it girds to take on Web giants such as Google and Yahoo.

Most people will have to wait until next year for the new service while Microsoft fine-tunes it. The software maker has invited thousands of people test the beta version since July and plans to open up testing to millions of people over the next few months, Richardson said.

The new e-mail test version includes nearly a dozen new features. Among them is a spell-check tool that underlines errors as people compose messages and suggests alternate spellings when they right-click on the word.

The company has also modified security features to call more attention to e-mails that may be related to a "phishing" identity theft scam. The program rates all incoming messages using three safety levels: "known sender," "unknown sender" or "unsafe." It calls special attention to "unsafe" e-mails.

The new release also includes a faster e-mail search engine that looks through the body of each message and checks the subject and address lines. In addition, the in-box and contact list includes a scroll feature, allowing people to view more messages and entries in a single page view.

Windows Live Mail also offers users 2 gigabytes of free storage compared with the 250 megabytes that's available for free with Hotmail, Richardson said. And Windows Live Mail users can keep their Hotmail.com e-mail addresses. To request access to the test version of the new service, visit Ideas.live.com.

28 comments

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Copy Cats
I believe that most of that is already available in Gmail. Why is it that Google comes out with all this amazing new stuff and all big companies like Microsoft do is copy it. I will never understand that.
Posted by triexel (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not copying Google
While they may have copied the 2GB thing, they certainly didn't copy the webmail part.

If you've used Outlook Web Access before, this is just a cleaned up version of that applied to Hotmail. MS has been using AJAX in OWA before Google was even a thought...although it's nice to see MS taking it public.
Posted by johnrf82 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Copy Cats
"The goal in rebuilding the service from the ground up is to improve performance and enable desktop-like e-mail features found in its Outlook program". Check www.canyonbridge.com, they have already done this.
Posted by jpaxton (1 comment )
Link Flag
Ignorance
Outlook Web Access has been around for more then 5 years now, way before the term AJAX was even coined. Go home and take rest.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Hmm...
Windows Live Mail also offers users 2 gigabytes of free storage compared with the 250 megabytes that's available for free with Hotmail
I'm still waiting to go from 2MB to 250MB.
Posted by BazNZ (81 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Caution, perhaps?????
I'd hate to think that Microsoft might be reading my email to learn
what ads to send me. Now, they really wouldn't do that, would
they????

Maybe they would.....
....... So I don't think that I'll tempt them with my email.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why?
If you have gmail then you are already getting it, sound like the evil empires are taking up the same tactics.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Link Flag
you are right
You should just use GMail, Google definitely wouldn't do anything like that.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Gates is an old man
No innovation and creative,...
He never receive the good comments from his "low level" employees.
His email account own by the stupid screener, he only receive mails says "you are greatest man in the world"
"what a great idea"
Share price drop will keep continue...
Posted by X-C3PO (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is easy to bash the big guys.
All big guys get bashed, MS,wal-mart, GM, Coca Cola, McDonalds, US govt(they deserved it though), Dell. I suppose the majority of people who vote through their wallet are wrong, the most of the world are idiots, the few who are different are the gifted ones. It is too easy to moan about the shortcomings and neglect the goods that have been done. I believe most will rather own Microsoft than Apples/ Google, the company i mean not the shares.
Posted by pjianwei (206 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You suppose right....
... most people don't have a clue about what they are buying. They
do what they are 'told'. Most didn't have a choice, and don't want
one. Choices just confuse them.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Not everyone would
True; many tech users just want an easy answer that avoids the education entailed in a detailed product comparison. This category may even be in the majority. But there are plenty of people out there that want choice, if only to realize that the corporate colossus is, in the end, the best choice. The more involved tech users will certainly opt for options.

While we do vote with our wallets in support of big business, we still appreciate the fallback provision of a smaller competitor who usually picks up the pieces when the big dogs loose touch with the customer. It happens more than you realize. How do you think today's monsters got to be so big?
Posted by MarkBentley (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
While everyone goes on about all this great email stuff, what about someone who has been online since 1993, has never used web mail and will never use web mail? Such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc? The only secure email systems are POP3 systems with your corespondence stored on your own machine... not some rinky-dink server online somewhere. Any online storage of anything is wide open to hackers and equipment failures. And that goes double for this "MS Cloud" computing. Totally unexceptable to anyone that knows what they're doing.
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Link Flag
There is something else to consider here, where choice is concerned. For the most part, the computer buying public represents one big nincompoop. In the beginning they went out an bought computers with Windows on them. Windows had a browser and an email handler; Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. The public's next step was to rush out and pay for something that they already had, a browser and an email handler (AOL)! I've been online since 1993 and AOL has never darkened my doorstep. AOL was a clear-cut case of lemmings and advertising. And, in the end, AOL took the money and ran.
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Link Flag
Does it do OutLook virus the same as standard MS e-mail products?
My guess would be yes, it is a Microsloth product after all.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
disappointed with the mail beat
I can NO LONGER open my hotmail account since about 2 weeks after I switched to the mail beta. Isn't it funny how yahoo has offer me the choice to switch back but hotmail has not? Or at least has not offered me the choice in a way that I can access it. I dont even know how to complain about this except find every site I can that comments about the beta and complain until I'm offered to switch back. Sorry if I seem a little harse but it's been weeks, I have 46 UNREAD EMAILS, I've tried to log on NUMEROUS TIMES, on 2 DIFFERENT COMPUTERS and it just freezes up. I've also found other complaints about the account and am considering taking the spam I get with yahoo and only using that account, that is of course once I get access to my unread mail and contact list from hotmail so I can email all my contacts and tell them NOT to use the mail beta. If anyone knows how I can switch back to the old hotmail PLEASE tell me, it would be greatly appreciated.
Posted by erikalynne (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
More Dead than Live...
I agree! I had 68 emails and could not access them. Just clicking on the Inbox would produce a (Not Responding) message. In the end I set up Outlook Express to pick up my hotmail...
I also have found no way back to the old trusted and, working well, version of Hotmail. As far as I'm concerned it's a dead horse.
Posted by dscheff (2 comments )
Link Flag
Switching back to hotmail
I am also disappointed with Live Mail Beta and have been looking to switch back to Hotmail. I finally found out how to do it. Click on Options in the top right corner, then click on More Options and one of the options there is to switch back to Hotmail.
Posted by cdewsnip (1 comment )
Link Flag
Confused
I must admit to being confused about Outlook vs Outlook Express vs the Windows Live Mail desktop client. Why would I want to use one vs. the other? Is there a review or guide published somewhere that would help me figure out which is best for me? I'm assuming Outlook is the most feature-rich and the most expensive. And that the Live Mail desktop client has features approaching Outlook but has the advantage of being free. Am I close?
Posted by mwbuford (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Not too close. Outlook Express is the most secure of the bunch and can be used with your POP3 email account, no matter who it is with. It is also the most feature rich. Windows Mail (in Vista) seems to be on a line with Outlook Express. Outlook, on the other hand, resembles web mail more than anything else and is virtually "featureless" The Windows Live email offering is all web mail and is totally not secure..
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Link Flag
Not too close. Outlook Express is the most secure of the bunch and can be used with your POP3 email account, no matter who it is with. It is also the most feature rich. Windows Mail (in Vista) seems to be on a line with Outlook Express. Outlook, on the other hand, resembles web mail more than anything else and is virtually "featureless" The Windows Live email offering is all web mail and is totally not secure..
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Link Flag
And, by the way, MS was shortsighted enough to release Vista with several un-needed and un-wanted features such as UAC pop-ups and things of that nature. These are easily remove with third party software designed to remove them... completely.
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For security purposes Hotmail needed to be replaced a long time ago... but not with "Live" and more web based email and tools. Web based apps of any kind are no place to store anything! Believe it or not, anything stored online is wide open to "hookers and Hackers" and inspection. Get a bigger hard disk drive and don't leave your stuff "hanging out there." Stay with a POP3 email system and keep what's yours on your own machine.
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You guys are going to have to get a little more educated on security and web based anything. One of your ports (into your computer) is already owned by your ISP, password protected from the outside by your ISP and there is no way that you can close that port. That port is required by federal law for use at such times as the data on your computer may be "required" to be inspected. It's there, I know it, I tried to close it and wasn't able to, and I called my ISP about it. They explained to me the federal law that requires that port to be there. They explained to me that I shouldn't worry about it; that it's protected with a 40 digit password that they change on a regular basis.
Posted by whozzit (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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