Using Windows Live: Mail

1805.windowslivemaillogo_thumb_100369c1 News Yesterday was Labor Day in the United States, the unofficial demarcation between summer and vacation time and fall.  School is starting again all over, football season is just beginning, and traditionally Microsoft gets back from employees gone on summer vacation and begins a round of fall releases, too.  We’re expecting at least some movement on the Wave 4 front, some news on the Windows Live Platform in time for PDC, and possibly some Bing news too.

In the meantime, it’s been a little slow in Windows Live world, so we thought we would take a bit of time to reflect on how we (and you) use Windows Live.  Spurred on by a couple of recent blog posts, we’ve been thinking a bit about mail.  After last week’s latest GMail outage, a *ahem* coincidental post appeared on the Windows Live Mail blog, a gentle reminder that unlike GMail, Windows Live has an offline mail solution:

Sometimes we’re not connected to the internet or unexpectedly the service we’re trying to connect to isn’t available – we find ourselves in need of accessing e-mail offline. Windows Live provides you options when things fall down because we understand that people depend on their e-mail for information. With Windows Live Mail or Outlook Connector for Outlook, you can access your Hotmail and other e-mail accounts offline and have a richer experience than possible on the web. So when the unexpected happens, you’ll still have access to your e-mail though the comfort of the mail programs on your PC.

Then in a short interview with Windows Live Director Ryan Gavin, Clint Boulton at Google Watch first notes that Windows Live Hotmail use is growing in the US:

comScore said Windows Live Hotmail ranks only behind Yahoo Mail in the United States. The site grew to 47.1 million monthly users, up 3 percent from the 45.8 million the research firm tracked in July 2008.

but after that uses the opportunity to extol the virtues of Gmail, listing features that he doesn’t find in Hotmail:

  • text messaging right from a PC to a person’s cell phone
  • video chat
  • to-do lists
  • document integration
  • “and a number of other helpful Web services that Live Hotmail just doesn’t offer today.”

Of course this works both ways.  One of the main reasons I use Windows Live Mail as my main email client is the ease with which it manages multiple email accounts.  I’ve found that the latest versions handle my 9 or so email accounts (mostly Hotmail, but also a couple of ISP POP3 accounts and a Gmail account) seamlessly, and that having associated accounts in Hotmail makes checking my main accounts easy to switch to from within Hotmail.

In contrast, Gmail doesn’t make it easy to handle multiple accounts, as Mashable noted last year.  And as Ryan Gavin noted in the Google Watch article, Windows Live offers SkyDrive and photo sharing opportunities that Gmail doesn’t.

So what do you use to check your email?  We’re trying out polls, and have posted one in the sidebar (link).  Just log in (so we can keep this first poll somewhat accurate, we can switch to anonymous polls as we refine the way this works) and vote, and leave a comment (click on “view more”) about how you use email.