After communicating with the Hotmail team on Twitter a couple of months ago I got inspired to test it out. Honestly before communicating with them I had not really tried to use Hotmail for the last couple of years. The fact that Hotmail communicated with me so openly and how their service compares with Gmail got me curious about trying the service.
To fully test this out I knew I had to ditch my Gmail accounts for at least two weeks so that I could give the service a fair usage. I knew that my opinion would be swayed by using Gmail but I wanted to fully use the service before I gave my opinion on it. The only thing that I was afraid of during these two weeks was would I lose any emails during these weeks if I did this? To avoid this I simply forwarded emails from my hosted Gmail accounts to my Hotmail account.
After communicating with the Hotmail team both on email and on Twitter they sent me a code to upgrade my account to a Hotmail plus account. The difference is that you do not get any ads in your account, more space to store your email in and that your account does not expire any more. You can do this for only $19.95 USD a year.One of them has actually signed up for a Hotmail plus account.
At first when I opened up the inbox a sense of ‘wow’ hit me. Even when everybody talked about them accessing emails through the web I have always been an Outlook user. That is where the feeling that I talked about earlier came back. The web interface in Hotmail reminds me a lot about Outlook. For the first time in a very long it felt like I could move away from Outlook to the web.
One feature that I have really enjoyed is the flags option where you pin email messages to the top of your inbox. When you flag an email the following happens:
It immediately moves to the top of your Inbox
It is marked as flagged, just like before
It shows up in the Flagged Quick View, just like before
At first when you read this you might wonder what is graymail? It is the amount of newsletters, emails and updates that fills your inbox. Microsoft has built in a lot of different options which you can use to handle these emails.
Another perspective that I thought a lot about was how well does it handle spam? I have seen one or two spam messages go through here and there but the situation have never been so that I have reacted and thought wow there is a lot of spam messages here in my inbox. On the other hand when I have checked my inbox I have reacted and thought there are a lot of spam messages here.
Integration with Office
With both working in IT and currently pursuing my Masters in IT Management here in Sweden I am an heavy user of Office both online and on my desktop and laptop. That said all users does not use Office on their computers. If users install Silverlight on their computers they can both show and edit documents without having the latest version of Office installed on their computers.
For me that write a lot of documents in collaboration with others during my courses at the university it feels like a very important factor. What I noticed when I talked about these features with others at my university, the did not even know about these features. Microsoft and Hotmail really need to get the word out since they have a lot of great features but where I am nearly nobody knows about the features that exist for them.
Integration with Skydrive
Hotmail offers the option where you can either upload your pictures into your Skydrive web album or attach them to emails. If you choose to upload pictures to your email directly, you get the option of storing them directly on your Skydrive.
If you drag the tab in Internet Explorer down you can get tab in the activity bar, so that you can easier access your items
When I poked around Hotmail I noticed that they had enabled SSL by default. This means that the average user does not have to worry about security.
After using Hotmail for the last couple of years, it has changed my perception of it. A lot of the features that they have in Hotmail are some that I have not heard about before. I have converted two people to start using Hotmail again and they barely knew about the features that Hotmail offers. Hotmail need to get the word out there because as it is right now people do not know about the features that Hotmail offers. As it is right now Hotmail is something that I plan on using more and more