I’ve been using Hotmail regularly since a year now. I had shifted over to Gmail but switched back somehow. But, I haven’t been a fan of the wave 3 updates so far in Hotmail. It has gone downhill in some departments while improved in others. Of course, they can’t satisfy everybody’s taste, but I haven’t seen many people happy with the changes. A couple of new updates have been rolled out now which include
- A web messenger in Hotmail, that disappears on its own from the service. Unfortunately, it isn’t appearing at this time of writing for me But having used it, all I can say is that it’s the worst Inbox-IM integration I’ve ever seen. Gmail does it the best, with Yahoo a close second. With Hotmail, you won’t be able to see which contacts are online, you’ll have to search your address book. Although you can see if the sender of a particular email is online, but it still doesn’t work how IM should. Chat boxes open up in new windows which is another let down for me.
- A map tool in email composing. It’s a great addition and I can think of many uses for it.
- A ‘consolidated’ address book, which is supposed to let you connect with many non-Microsoft services like Facebook. I don’t know how that is supposed to work since I can’t see any mention of Facebook or any other service in the address book page.
- A what’s new feed in the Today page, along with upcoming birthdays of your contacts and MSN Today feed.
- The ad banner at the top has also shifted to the right side of the screen. It is still noticeable as hell and distracting. Gmail does it the best, with ads that you won’t even notice while working with it.
- More themes. Who doesn’t like customization? The theme you chose now stays the same through out your Windows Live pages except for Spaces and Events.
Personally, I don’t like the new UI for Hotmail. The older one was better in more ways than one. Also, the rapid additions to Gmail, along with offline access, threaded view, and its UI makes it seem better than any other email service out there. Hopefully, they’ll keep improving Hotmail in response to feedback. Still, a good set of upgrades for Hotmail.