Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail
Windows Live Hotmail looks better, works faster and adds some neat features to Microsoft's web-based email service. Can it compete with Gmail?
- Improved interface, social networking features, Office integration
- Minor confusion with social-networking contacts
How does the revamped Hotmail compare to Gmail? In some ways, it's superior. The new Windows Live Hotmail beats Gmail hands down for social network integration; Gmail also lacks the ability to view embedded media content from sites such as YouTube. For email handling, while Gmail does an excellent job of that, we prefer the new Hotmail - but that's strictly a personal preference. This new version of Hotmail focuses largely on productivity enhancements such as improved mail handling. It's also now easily the most elegant-looking of any web-based mail service. If you've never used Hotmail before, or swore off it in the past, now is the time to take a new look - you'll likely be exceedingly pleased at what you find.
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
According to Microsoft, Windows Live Hotmail is the world's largest web-based email service, with more than 360 million active accounts worldwide. But when it comes to buzz, Gmail has had it beat for the past several years. Now that may change. A revamped Hotmail was announced on May 18; it will be available sometime in July or August, with the exact date still to be determined.
We were able to work with the new version and found that it has the fast responsiveness and full feature set of a desktop application rather than a web-based one. It also offers some very nifty features that Gmail is lacking, including better mail management and more ways to eliminate email clutter.
Windows Live Hotmail: Better interface
To begin with, the new Hotmail simply looks better - it's more graphical and easier on the eyes. And it feels faster and more responsive. Like the old Hotmail, folders are on the left-hand side of the screen, and the in-box and reading pane on the right. But that basic layout has gotten a makeover, with a number of links added to the left side of the screen and a new set of links across the top of the right side of the screen to make it easier to find mail.
On the left-hand side, underneath a list of your folders, is a section called Quick View, which allows you to quickly view mail based on several preset criteria. These include mail that you've tagged, mail with photos in it, mail with Office documents as attachments and mail sent from shipping services such as FedEx. Click any category, and you'll see only the relevant mail.
Filters, located just above the main mail screen, allow you to view your email based on several other categories, including unread mail, mail from contacts, mail from Windows Live groups and others. Filtering is particularly powerful when combined with Quick Views. You could, for example, choose to see only mail with Office documents attached that were sent by your contacts. Or you could see all unread shipping updates.
Message threading is also improved by the addition of a Conversation View, much like you will find in Outlook 2010. It lets you easily see an entire email conversation at a glance, including all messages sent and received, rather than hunting for them individually in your in-box, out-box and other folders. This seemingly small feature may be the biggest productivity enhancer in the entire Windows Live Hotmail upgrade. It can easily save hours each month.
By default, the feature is turned off. To turn it on, you'll have to select Options --> More Options --> Conversation settings, select "Group messages by conversation" and click Save.
One of the niftier new features is the ability to view embedded media content directly within Hotmail, instead of having to go to an external site to view it. So if you're sent a link to a YouTube video, for example, you'll be able to view the video within Windows Live Hotmail.
Finally, the Sweep feature cleans up clutter by allowing you to delete or move all marked mail in a folder, or mark an entire folder as having been read.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Motorola Moto X Style review: A no compromise flagship
- 2 Oppo R7 Plus review: a stellar sub-$600 phablet
- 3 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7) 4G review: Samsung does a lot more with a lot less
- 4 Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) review: Is it worth an extra $100?
- 5 Jawbone UP3 review: 3 months with Jawbone's best fitness tracker
Deals on PC World
- Networking, Wireless & VoIP
Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft claims 110M devices now run Windows 10
- Windows 10 growth slows, but breaks 100M device mark
- Google Photos’ big, helpful Android update goes live
- Microsoft’s Sydney store will open its doors on 12 November
- Tim Cook on Apple and Microsoft partnership: 'It's what customers want'
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
- FTDatabase Marketing ManagerNSW
- CCE-Commerce - Senior Web Application DeveloperNSW
- FTField EngineerNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Client Side - Previous Agency Experience Welcome!!NSW
- FT1st & 2nd level IT support all-rounder in beautiful rural BathurstNSW
- FTSystems Administrator - Managed ServicesNSW
- FTDigital ManagerNSW
- FTLinux Administrator with AWS & DevopsNSW
- FTSystems Administrator | National commercial law firm | MS, AWS & eDiscoveryNSW
- FTLevel 2 IT Support TechnicianVIC
- FTAndroid DeveloperNSW
- FTProduct Marketing ManagerNSW
- FTBusiness Development & Account ManagementNSW
- FTSales SpecialistNSW
- FTAccount Manager | Music IndustryNSW
- FTManual Test Engineer | Financial Institution | Web testingNSW
- CCMilitary simulation programmer with C# and Unity - 3 monthsNSW
- FTSenior Account Manager - PR AgencyNSW
- CCWeb / Drupal DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Consultant | Project work | National Systems IntegratorVIC