windows live mail

In the last few days I received an invite to get onto the Windows Live mail beta (thanks guys) – it will be the replacement for Hotmail when it launches. I nearly missed it as I have safe lists enabled so only authorised people can get to my inbox in my hotmail account. This usually works well as my hotmail account has been redundant since I switched to Gmail and it stops me having to trawl through all the spam I get on Hotmail. I also have a Yahoo mail account, but like my Hotmail account, I now only use them for testing client’s email communications. I find the Yahoo interface clunky and not that intuitive so it has never been my main web client yet. Fingers crossed on their next version 😉

The name

Windows Live Mail – this is so Microsoft – it just doesn’t roll off the tongue. I can see the logic – build the Windows Live brand and then add services on to it. Hence Windows Live Messenger as well. It is certainly logical, like all of Microsoft’s naming conventions in the past they all make sense and you know what they are, they just never sound cool. I think my major problem with it right now though is that I cannot associate the name Windows Live with Microsoft’s web services strategy.. it feels like a brand stretch too far for me (I associate Windows too much with the OS and not at all with the web). If anyone can make it work though it’s Microsoft. Gmail is a great name and still managed to get the Google brand across. Of course Google have run into trouble over the name Gmail in both the UK and Germany and have had to switch to Google mail in those countries. I still prefer this to Windows Live Mail though. From now on I am shortening it to WLM 🙂

Why did I move to Gmail?

I never really believed in the whole store all your email and search it mantra. I certainly did not move for this. WLM has a search facility, though I cannot compare speed as yet as its not completed yet. The major reasons I switched was a quicker interface (WLM is defintely quick) and SPAM – Google had none and Hotmail had lots. It’s too early to tell if this issue is solved but there is supposed to be protection from phishing and virii.

What do I think?

It has only been a few days, so these are my intial thoughts – more to come as I use it a bit more 🙂 First impressions are, I like the interface and as a Personal Information Manager (PIM) it is significantly better than Gmail as Gmail does not offer a Calendar or Tasks etc. yet. I like the shared calendars, though like all the major players these things only work with their own members (ie other Passport users). It is quick and a much more refreshing layout than gmail. It is by no means complete yet either so I intend to use it for a while and see what happens. I love using the right mouse button so it will be good to see more shortcuts added there (there are some already) – that’s something I miss in Gmail. There is also drag and drop which is also a a simpler and nicer way to manage your emails. There is a obviously plenty still to come as even basic features are still missing.

What do I want?

Conversations 2 – Google’s current implementation of conversations is nice enough but it doesnt do too much more than a functionality that is already there elsewhere – most email clients include the train of email messages beneath the email so you can see the conversation train. This actually works to cause problems in Gmail conversations – each email is longer than it needs to be as it shows the train of emails. What I would like is the ability to see all the recent emails to that particular person – a contact email history if you like and then also strip out the email train below the email and into separate email conversations.

Labels – The ability to tag or categorise emails – using this you could probably implement contact email history I wanted above.

Cross Vendor communication – as I inferred above, I am fed up with having to either adopt one company or another. Why can we not have true competition in this space? Let me give you an example. My favourite Messenger client is MSN, yet I use Gmail for my email. Why can I not get notifications of emails through my MSN client? I had an MSN Spaces blog which was great inside MSN Messenger – but now I have a WordPress Blog I cannot notify my friends using the same interface to notify them that my blog has updated. I could go on. For me this is what Web 2 should be about – the ability for applications from different vendors to interact with each other – kind of like a Bluetooth for software. Of course we have not even got Bluetooth working properly in the hardware world just yet but thats another story..

There are still so many possibilities..

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