More info on Windows Live Mail (the desktop client)

In case you missed it during the Windows Live Hotmail announcement, the press release contained a brief sentence relating to the Windows Live desktop email client, now just called Windows Live Mail – “Windows Live Mail, a free consumer e-mail client that will be the successor to Outlook Express and Windows Mail on Windows Vista”. 

Nothing is ever simple with Windows Live, and the latest naming / product change to Windows Live Mail is another fine example. Why you would ever reuse a name that was used by a different yet similar product for the previous 15 months we’re not quite so sure. Here’s an attempt to try and address some of the confusion that’s already showing. Our questions and the responses we got back are below.

Q: Will Windows Live Mail overwrite Windows Mail on Windows Vista? How about Outlook Express on XP SP2? 
A: Windows Live Mail will not overwrite or remove Windows Mail or Outlook Express.  Instead, it will be the successor and superset of the existing free clients, changing the entry points (so things like shortcuts replaced). 

Q: What does this mean for Windows Mail support in Windows Vista SP1 and beyond?
A: Windows Mail and Outlook Express will continue to be supported as they are today (including bug fixes) while at the same time new innovation and future investment are made to Windows Live Mail.

Q: Will Windows Live Mail have ads?
A: While there won’t be graphical ads, we will continue to test Active Search in the US, but users will have the option to disable it/turn it off and on.

As a Hotmail Plus subscriber I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of ads in Windows Live Mail. While its definitely good for the user, the latest financial figures show that MSN/Windows Live is struggling to break even. With Windows Live Mail potentially putting the user experience over monetisation, it’ll be interesting to see how this is reflected in other desktop applications such as Windows Live Messenger. Messenger has always displayed ads to premium subscribers, this move will give them renewed pressure to change this policy.

The new Windows Live Mail (client) support blog is available at http://wlmailclient.spaces.live.com/ and they have helpfully quantifed the timeframe until the next beta build – the end of May. Here’s a sneak peek at part of the new wave 2 UI we’re expecting to see (remember details can change). A more complete feature list is under discussion here.

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