Microsoft’s new release of Hotmail is rolling out to customers worldwide.
The company revealed on Tuesday that the updated Hotmail will be available to all customers within a few weeks. The updated version includes new flagging and Gmail-like features. The changes will change the way that power users see Hotmail as the company moves a number of Outlook features over to Hotmail and introduces a categories feature which is identical to Gmail’s labeling option.
Categories and advanced folder management
Microsoft’s most significant change in the updated Hotmail is the addition of categories. Similar to Google’s own labelling system, categories will allow users to label messages or senders into a particular group. Messages can be tagged into a particular category manually or automatically based on sender or content type. Microsoft is also categorizing newsletters automatically in Hotmail inboxes. “We’ve looked at around 30,000 newsletter senders and we’re able to classify those now,” said Microsoft’s Mark West in an interview with WinRumors.
The categories feature allows Hotmail users much greater control over their inbox and brings one of Gmail’s best features to Hotmail. Microsoft is looking to improve automated management and better customisation of the Hotmail inbox. “We’re really trying to put those tools into their hands,” said West. Microsoft has also improved its folder management. Users can quickly and easily create new folders without having to refresh the entire Hotmail Inbox by using some of the latest web technologies to create folders on the fly.
Microsoft has introduced flags to pin messages at the top of the Hotmail inbox. The implementation is basic at the moment. “Today it’s just pinning to top of email,” said West. “We flag them in quick view and also in the Hotmail homepage.” Hotmail users will also be able to quick flag emails using a new Instant Actions menu. When you flag an email the following occurs:
- 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
Microsoft is introducing a simple Instant Actions pane into Hotmail. The pane will provide buttons that appear when your mouse hovers over a message. The buttons allow Hotmail users to delete, flag and sweep messages by default with one click. Hotmail users will be able to customise the UI be adding and removing buttons that they use most. The Instant Actions featured is aimed at power users of Hotmail and those who need to quickly file and manage their email flow.
Scheduled sweep cleanups
Scheduled cleanups allow users to automatically get rid of certain emails. The option allows users to automatically sweep their Inbox of messages from certain senders that are older than a set period of time. The feature is useful for newsletters that aren’t relative after a few weeks.
Hotmail will now offer users the ability to use their uploaded images in a SkyDrive web album or simply attach images to emails. A preview of the SkyDrive mail will render inline with the message content when users attempt to upload images to their new Hotmail messages.