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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Hotmail Devolved

13 April 2006 by Chris N

Disclaimer: I know what ‘beta’ means!

Up until a few days ago I was using the new Windows Live Mail beta, instead of my usual Hotmail account. Now I’m back to good old Hotmail. Why? Mainly because the new system doesn’t work in Firefox. In my tricked-out browser of choice the whole Live Mail system is actually worse than Hotmail. You can’t seem to sort your mail, or type in a contact’s name and have it replaced with their email address, images don’t open up how I like them… it’s been making me grind my teeth daily since I started to use it.

Now I don’t know if Microsoft are planning on de-crippling the system for use in FF – as far as I can tell, all the AJAX (blimey, the A, J, A and X keys on my keyboard seem to be wearing out at the moment) bells and whistles Live Mail uses should be easy to implement on other browsers. But Live’s inability to work on my favouite orange beast isn’t the only thing that puts me off. The whole look of the system is artless; there’s certainly nothing to compare with the friendly pastel shades and spot-on branding of Gmail. The name ‘Windows Live Mail’ is similarly awful, and seems to be another attempt to tie in this web-based service with a specific operating system. Isn’t it a principle feature of the web that it is non-platform specific?

It seems fairly silly of Microsoft to assume that, if they migrate my current Hotmail over to this new, more Windows-ish, more Internet Explorer-ish system, that I will feel more inclined to stick with all their other products. I won’t. If Live Mail doesn’t get a lot better, when they switch off Hotmail I’ll be considering a defection. Hey, I’ve even used Live Mail under IE and I’m still fairly unimpressed. Then again, perhaps one thing keeping me hanging back from a Gmail defection is this (prepare for a highly suspect metaphor): I don’t want to put all my information eggs in one shiny, smiley and ever-so-slightly-too-powerful Google-shaped basket.