Hotmail is on a Roll with Updates
By on June 24th, 2011

While we gasped at the awesomeness of the relaunched SkyDrive earlier this week, most of us have failed to notice the slew of updates to another product by the same business division at Microsoft. Hotmail has been releasing updates all through the month of June, some of which haven’t been even announced officially.Hotmail

While some of these have been feature additions, others have been nice user interface tweaks. The evident speed improvements are a result of some clever HTML5 programming. The team has clearly been inspired by Outlook and brings many features from Outlook/Outlook Web Access to Hotmail.

Navigation

Since a couple of weeks, the header on the Hotmail has changed to a header similar to SkyDrive. It has a consolidated menu for SkyDrive instead of the Photos and Office links.

Based on the user feedback, the Hotmail team has adjusted the Back button so that it now works more effectively, and attachments now get saved to email drafts. Also, users can recover some lost email through a new link in the Deleted folder.

Kip from liveside.net has also spotted a quick view Calendar in the left navigation pane. I haven’t had this update on my account as yet, and neither did most people that I checked with at the time of writing this post.

Right-click Menus

Hotmail has added more right-click action options this week inspired by Outlook. When you right-click a message in your inbox, a new menu appears allowing you to Reply, Reply all, or Forward the message. Hotmail already supports right-click actions like Mark as unread, Delete, Junk, Move, and View message source. This is a definite speed-booster for the daily email tasks.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Hotmail supports several keyboard shortcuts familiar to the Outlook users, such as Ctrl+N for a new message, and Ctrl+Enter to send a message. It also provides keyboard shortcuts that users who have switched from Gmail and Yahoo! Mail are already used to with the previous email service.

Personalization

While you could always customize individual email messages, now Hotmail allows you to set a set a default font and personal signature for all your email messages.

Message Pre-loading

Last week, an option appeared in Hotmail to allow message pre-loading that pre-loads messages and folders in order to make them load faster and speed up reading. The feature needs to be activated from the Hotmail options.

 

While most of these additions increase speed and productivity while using Hotmail, a few features on my wish-list still remain to be struck off.

  • If you’ve pinned Hotmail to your Windows 7 Taskbar, you receive a notification of a new mail. Unfortunately, there is no Messenger notification. While Facebook and Gmail change the browser title to notify a user of an incoming chat message, Hotmail has no such feature.
  • While Outlook saves conversation history from communicator, Hotmail doesn’t do that for Messenger. This is one Outlook feature I would really want to see come to this side.
  • More right-click options? Yay! However, I still find it natural to expect right-click action options on folders in the left navigation pane.
  • This is not a personal wish, but asking for no advertisements on Hotmail finds resonance across the web. The latest refresh of SkyDrive does away with ads, so there is hope.
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Author: Abhishek Baxi
Abhishek Baxi is an independent technology columnist for several international publications and a digital consultant. He speaks incessantly on Twitter (@baxiabhishek) and dons the role of Editor-in-Chief here at Techie Buzz.

Abhishek Baxi has written and can be contacted at abhishek@techie-buzz.com.

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