It's Time To Give Hotmail A Chance

I know. Just let me finish. It sounds crazy — Hotmail is the leper colony of email, right? The running joke, the email potato famine we all fled for Gmail a decade ago — yeah. But that was then. Hotmail is changing.

The reason is simple: Hotmail is trying again. And they're trying hard, because they have to: at the moment, Hotmail is associated with nothing but mums, failure, antiquity and ignorance. But the gussied up look and new features reported by WinRumors (and set to roll out this month) point to a sea change for Hotmail — it's not sitting on its rotten '90s laurels anymore. It wants to be back in the fight.

Part of the new refresh is pure catchup: the long, long overdue addition of starred messages and folders, which are both totally elementary to any Gmail user. It's kind of cute and pathetic that Hotmail took this long.

But the other half is genuinely interesting — an adjective I didn't think I'd ever apply to Hotmail. Scheduled cleanups could make your inbox a hell of a lot less overwhelming, moving (or nuking) messages from certain senders after a set time period. Say, killing all my Facebook notification emails after two days. Or moving all of my online bank statements to their own folder after a month. Gmail's Priority Inbox is nice, but it deals with presentation, not volume — a Hotmail scheduled cleanup actually beats dust out of your inbox.

Beyond meagre functionality, much of Hotmail's stigma stems from being such an old, homely thing to use, an undead vision of the internet when it was acceptable to be ugly. That's not so much the case anymore — it resembles Gmail more than ever. But neat little UI treats like Hotmail's new Instant Actions prove an interest in making your inbox more than just adequate — command your inbox around with as few clicks as possible. Rather than having to highlight messages or dive inside them, Instant Actions gives you a set of customisable icons that appear over each email when you hover, letting you, say, delete or move it. A simple addition, but one of those whose saved seconds could really add up.

I'm not saying Hotmail is as good as Gmail. It's not. I'm not saying Microsoft is close to catching up. It isn't. But the effort to steal the good parts of Gmail and add things Google hasn't cooked up yet is exciting, if only for the fact that it makes Hotmail a word I don't feel embarrassed about anymore — it's becoming something worth thinking about again, rather than a mustard stain.

So open it up if you have a mouldy old account, or give it a run through for the first time. You might like it. And if you don't, at least give Microsoft the daps they deserve for trying to modernise a steam engine here (and look forward to seeing scheduled cleanups pop up in your Gmail account by next year). Beyond just surviving, Microsoft might actually come out with a reboot of the humdrum that's genuinely awesome. They're pretty awesome at that, these days.

Images: WinRumors


Comments

    I don't know what the hell you're talking about, but I use my email client for emails, so I never left Hotmail.

    Functionality > Aesthetic, and Gmail's functionality is nowhere to be seen.

      I know right! I'm sitting here running hotmail on my blistering fast Pentium 2 IBM computer with the super sweet Internet Explorer 6! Windows 98 really was the pinnacle of operating systems. You know what I love the most though?
      Hotmail. Hotmail. Hotmail.
      OMG I love Hotmail, (almmost as much as I love Will Smith's raps).

      How was functionality superior to Gmail's? Until this very moment, Hotmail had no starring or folders. How long did it take Hotmail to close the gap with 2GB+ storage? Or have tagging? Or integrated search function? Or proper spam filtering? Every single one of these cases it lagged behind the competition's.

      You're right in saying Gmail's aesthetics are better, but no-one would have left Hotmail in 2004 if it wasn't functional too, but it took till 2011 to get their act together. As of this point, there's no reason to use Hotmail over Gmail unless you're using WP7 and want tighter integration, but the opposite can be said for Gmail/Android.

    I used to love Hotmail... then Microsoft bought it (am I showing my age with that statement?). For me, it's all gmail & google apps these days. It has everything I want except for push email to iOS.

      Gmail does do push notifications for ios.

      Unless you mean through the web portal.

        I thought it only supported polling. My iPad is set up for push (well, whatever the default is), I get my work email (from exchange) instantly, but my gmail is usually a 5min wait (unless I check manually).

          GMail have allowed full Exchange sync via m.google.com for ages! :) Just set up your GMail as Exchange on your phone/tablet.

            Awesome, thanks for that, I'll give it a go.

    I never left hotmail, I have had the same email address for years and was able to send emails. What more could you want from email.

      +1 - I have a gmail account I got in the first round but I actually use it as my Junk filter account. Anytime I sign up to a website that may be even the slightest bit dogy I use my gmail account as the filter. If their ok and I keep using them then I consider switching them to my day to day hotmail account.

    GMail dealt with spam better than Hotmail. So I left Hotmail back in 2005.

    I still use my hotmail account but only for signing up to websites that are going to spam me. I have had a gmail account since the start. I don't get spam and I haven't looked back.

    i own 4 email accounts
    hotmail, gmail, yahoo, another gmail (for signing up purposes)

    back then we only have 2mb of space for e-mail, hence people have multiple e-mail accounts, I used to have 6-8 i think

      @lolwut - mate you have the same setup as me. 1 gmail I use for resume's, the other for spam, hotmail for pron and gizmodo....not sure how that came about

    I've had my hotmail account for years (back before they were own by Microsoft), to be honest I wouldn't know HOW to change my email address any more, there's just too much tied to it. As for the "functionality" arguments compared to Gmail, I can't see any difference. They're both boring web e-mail clients. Both of them have app's for my Android phone. Both support push email. both sync up my contacts. both allow rules to be created to manage my email. as far as I'm concerned they're the same thing, with a different domain name.

      Most people won't notice the difference if all they do is compose simple emails and read their inbox. If you're the type of person who likes to micromanage folders, tags, starred threads etc, then Gmail is superior.

      Changing email clients (or even just changing addresses) is always going to be a bitch. But you have to pull the band-aid off quickly. It just comes down to looking at who has your email, assessing which ones you want to keep and changing contact details > switch.

    What's wrong with Hotmail? I got heartily sick of my ISP's email and Thunderbird (never liked Outlook) last year and opened a new Hotmail account. Its perfectly functional and I get zero spam. SInce moving onto WinPhone 7 it has been even betterer, synching contacts and calendars with the phone without me having to tell it to or set it up or anything. I really like it, it is simple and it works.

    I'd never use anything Google if I didn't have to. Their business is built on making the internet ugly and full of annoying advertising. It would sort of like supporting News Ltd.

      I've still got my hotmail account, and with having a windows phone... it's really selling itself as an intergrated thingy.

      I like it, and I'm staying with it.

        1+

        And windows live mail.

      "What’s wrong with Hotmail?

      I’d never use anything Google if I didn’t have to. Their business is built on making the internet ugly and full of annoying advertising"

      Big surprise!

    I use my own email domain. Forget Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo.
    Nothing looks as professional as sam@biddle.com
    You know it makes sense.

      Couldn't agree more. I've had my domain for over 10 years and in that time changed from hotmail to yahoo before finally settling with gmail, and just forwarded my [email protected] account to whatever webmail I was using at the time. Not once did I ever have to send out a bulk email to all contacts that my email address had changed. Of course that email address is a catch-all account which is handy for multiple reasons:
      - spam filtering: sign up to sites using [email protected] Then if I start getting spam sent to that address, I have a pretty good idea who's been selling my email address. I can complain if I feel like wasting time, or alternatively just block that address.
      - easy filtering: set up a mail filter (e.g. gmail's) for all mails sent to [email protected] to go into a special label "birthday RSVPs".

      You get the idea.

    I honestly couldn't care less which email client I use. Gmail is the one I use and as Cameron says, it does what it is supposed to do. The reason for my change, back in the day, was that Hotmail was being hit very hard with a lot of spam and gmail at the time had the best spam filtering.

    Now that I have been using gmail for so long, it would be pointless to change unless there was something gmail couldn't do... but it meshes so well with my Android phone that I got a couple of months ago, it is now even better.. so I don't see myself changing any time soon.

    My hotmail got screwed over in several ways. Ported to Gmail. It was quite a mess getting everything changed to my Gmail. No way I'm changing again.

    Here we go, first it's pseudo smart phone brand wars and now it's email client brand wars? Who cares, do they all not do 99% of what eachother does?

    Email client a commodity, it's like picking the difference between a Westinghouse and a Fisher and Paykel fridge, very very little difference...

      But that's sort of the point. They do the same thing NOW, and it took one of those parties the better part of a decade to get there.

      Of course people will migrate to whoever has the most to offer and back in 04-06, it was Gmail by a mile. Now at this point, everyone's entrenched in whatever they're using and have no incentive to make the jump.

      Not true, Westinghouse attaches their logo with a badge and F&P stamp theirs into the metal - details matter. My F&P fridge is too 'ken noisy though

    I use hotmail, both via webmail and WIndows Live Mail client. Find it quite brilliant. I have a gmail account that gets used occassionally. Amusingly, I get more spam in gmail than hotmail, AND AND AND, the best part, LEGITIMATE mail ends up in gmail junk folder, legitimate email that I already have emails from the sender IN my inbox, but no, gmail wants to throw new mail into the junk.
    So, thank you, I'll stick with Hotmail.

    I dont see why people originally started to hate Hotmail :/ Does wonders in regards to contact sync's and as a basic mail provider...

    Everyone seemed to switch to Gmail cuz it was Google and Hotmail was MS...

    Personally i have alot of emails over alot of carriers which i have picked up over the years...

      People don't hate Hotmail now, they hated it a long time ago, back when it was getting destroyed by spam. Then Gmail comes out and it has over a gig of storage! (this was mind-blowing back then) and it looked cleaner, and was easier to use, it was also invite-only so there was a degree of exclusivity to get into the Beta. Easiest switch I ever made.

      I can tell you, that back then, no-one seemed to know or care that "Google" was involved. This was pre-Android and before they bought out Youtube, so the brand was strictly associated with search, it was very much an unknown quality. Now, Google is an industry darling so you'd assume it had so something to do with MS/Google rivalry but it's not true.

    I just jump in for an intermission: can someone please please ask Google again why the jerky behaviour in regards to Profile names? On a side note: even if I wanted to give hotmail a go, I am just so fed up with the word Microsoft - it just sounds so 90s and Antitrust, somehow ...

      how can you feel windows is "anti trust" and google isnt when google came out and openly admitted to stealing peoples info with their street view cars?

      http://www.neowin.net/news/google-admits-it-also-stole-emails-and-passwords

        Hello fake Steve, I don't think you know what "Antitrust" means if you think it has anything to do with the Google Streetview car. Brush up on your definitions.

        Hello fake Steve, I don't think you know what "Antitrust" means if you think it has anything to do with the Google Streetview car. Brush up on your definitions.

    I have been using Gmail from the Birth of Gmail. Still Gmail is growing day by day... Gmail is AWESOME!!! and the above mentioned FEAATURES HOTmail are not enough to think about a move.. Even it is not capable to think me for a try that....

    If you have time please check GMAIL's new layout and FILTERING options...

    Gud LUCK Bro.

    as others have said, had hotmail for years, have a windows phone. Easiest mobile email iv ever seen!

    have had hotmail since WAY before microsoft took over, have a yahoo for junk sites. my whole life is tied to my hotmail account. its perfect and has been for over a decade. its just an email account. i signed up for this housing development company to get their notices recently and out of the 200+ "to" email addresses at the top, i was the only one with a hotmail it blew my mind...

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