Windows Live Mail Beta

Tools, Windows

Few months back when I tried to sign up for the Windows Live Mail Beta, I was just asked to register and was told that I would be notified when the service is available. It was never done !

Few days back when I was checking the Windows Live Ideas Page, I happened to see a signup link next to Windows Live Mail Beta. I signed up and lo my normal Hotmail account got converted into a Windows Live Mail account.

Did I like it ? My expectation from Microsoft were pretty high and I should say I was thoroughly disappointed.

This is what Microsoft says about the Windows Live Mail:

It�s all-new Web mail, built from the ground up. Preview your e-mail without loading a new page each time (like Outlook�) drag and drop messages into folders, and generally power through your e-mail in a flash.

The interface is �outlookish� much like in Yahoo Mail. However I was not able to resize the panes when I opened the mailbox in Firefox. Without resizing the panes, there is no way you can customize the layout of the UI the way you want.

In IE it seemed to work fine. Now if MS thinks that people are going to use IE to do this task , they are damn wrong. I�d rather stick to a E-Mail service which works on all browsers.

Check out the screenshot of the home page:

Windows Live Mail

The Windows Live Banner along with the other content (Search Box & User Name Details) takes almost 30% of the height on my widescreen monitor. The inbox widget was too small to manage both the message list and the preview pane.

Press on say �Options� link and press the back button in your browser, the mailbox is again loaded ! (which is time consuming in a low bandwidth environment). This is at least manageable, sometimes by mistake when I pressed the back button I got the �Page Expired� message and I had to re-login. Pathetic !!

The Find Mail/search feature is of no use, I gave a search string based on the E-Mail ID of a message and I got 0 results !. The Contacts/Address Book also didn�t have much change compared to the earlier version.

One thing that you will realize instantly is that the UI is �bulky� or �heavy� compared to GMail or Yahoo Mail. Also the use of some icons were not typical of Microsoft. Check this image.

The icons next to Junk E-Mail and Delete Items are used for emptying the folders. I initially thought it as a �refresh� option !!

However the feature which I found useful was the message organization feature, you can drag and drop the messages into different folders.

I should conclude that GMail still rocks, when Yahoo came with its Yahoo Mail beta, I was impressed with the changes they made, but still there were lot of features in GMail which were missing in Yahoo Mail.
And now MS comes with Windows Live Mail and I have no problem in saying : It sucks !. What do you think of it ?

I hope they really take the feedback of users and make the necessary changes.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ryan Aug 12, 2006 Link

    Wow, that looks a lot better than Hotmail ever looked. Sadly I never use my Hotmail account and have been using Gmail for over a year and I don’t want to go through the hassle of switching emails again. But thanks for the information.

  • Venu Aug 13, 2006 Link

    It only “looks” better, no change in terms of features. I was hoping to see something better with Windows Live mail.
    But the interesting fact is that hotmail is still the No 1 in mail service.. wonder why ?

  • nattapong Aug 15, 2006 Link

  • Bhavesh Gudhka Aug 17, 2006 Link

    Did you say new? LOL

    I have been using this interface on OWA (outlook web access) on Exchange 2003.
    Its old microsoft policy of copy, rename and publish.
    Microsoft is doing this since Windows 95 days.


  • Bella Sep 8, 2006 Link

    nothing can be better!
    it is really amazing..

  • sabrina Sep 14, 2006 Link

    how can I get it ? the windows live mail beta

  • venukb Sep 14, 2006 Link

    Hi Sabrina,
    As I mentioned in the start of the post, there is a signup link via which you can submit your normal hotmail account for upgrade.

    The upgrade is done in a day or two.


  • Aboude Sep 17, 2006 Link

    Please i wnt to sign up for the windows mail beta

  • jose Oct 10, 2006 Link


  • Rebecca Jan 27, 2007 Link


  • TheAnand May 6, 2007 Link

    Yahoo! Mail Beta still rocks for me, I am waiting for their IM integration which will make it SUPER!

    Yea, I am biased, I have been using yahoo for about 8 years now. Hotmail sucks anyway and yea people are biased about it too..esp. since it has MS attached to it!

    # Venu

    Aug 13th, 2006 at 6:51 pm

    It only “looks� better, no change in terms of features. I was hoping to see something better with Windows Live mail.
    But the interesting fact is that hotmail is still the No 1 in mail service.. wonder why ?

    I am interested to know from where you got that information!!!!!!!

  • Benedict Herold Jul 13, 2007 Link

    I may be late to comment here but I had to because I can’t agree with the statement yahoo mail doesn’t have features as much in Gmail.

    Disclaimer : I may be 100% truly biased 🙂

  • venukb Jul 14, 2007 Link

    Benedict, you are biased for sure 🙂
    yahoo definitely doesn’t have the power of Gmail. Give Gmail and Yahoo to a new user, and after few days I would bet on him liking Gmail’s simplistic (yet powerful) UI rather than YMail 🙂

  • Benedict Herold Jul 14, 2007 Link

    Are you very sure gmail UI is better than Yahoo? I have been arguing with most for this! 🙂

  • Venu Jul 14, 2007 Link

    Gmail UI – Yes its much better than yahoo. You might not have the options to change themes etc, but here is what I like in Gmail (again this is not biased and from a developer perspective)

    1. Loading is amazingly fast
    2. Love the powerful keyboard features
    3. Concept of labels is an innovation. Everybody was thinking of organizing mails into nested folders (where people generally get lost).But Gmail bought a totally new concept. As you might be knowing Labels are again logical folders
    Also with the powerful search feature, I no longer need to have a nested folder structure as I have in Outlook client.
    4. Though I miss the drag and drop, i generally label the mails (if i have not created a filter/rule) and press a keyboard shortcut to archive. The mail is nicely moved from inbox 🙂
    5. I love the undo feature
    6. Spam filter is one of the best I have seen. Others have improved only recently

    I am sure if you do a unbiased usage of both gmail and yahoo, you would begin appreciating the features in gmail. Geeks going behind gmail is also a testimonial of features in Gmail.

    And again you will know this, Yahoo mail had a drastic change only after Gmail came in. Or I should put it this way – Gmail made Yahoo change itself (but again yahoo didn’t innovate much during this change)