Just under a month ago Microsoft took the wraps off Windows Live Messenger, talking for the first time about the new Wave 4 version of the popular instant messaging app and service. Now, for the first time, Microsoft is officially ready to do the same for Hotmail.
Hotmail has had a long history, beginning in 1996 as one of the first web-based email services, and bought for an estimated $400 million by Microsoft in 1997, Hotmail grew to one of the largest web based email services in the world, but has faced stiff competition since Google launched Gmail in 2002. Google introduced an unheard of at the time 1gb of email storage (Hotmail at the time offered 2mb of free storage), threaded conversations, and a number of features not available in Hotmail.
But the landscape has changed again, and Microsoft is positioning the new version of Hotmail, announced tonight at available in a worldwide launch “this summer”, to be the premier consumer email service. Microsoft is focusing on several main areas of improvement for the new Hotmail: enhanced security; eliminating clutter; better handling of photos, messaging, contacts and mobile access; and Office and Office Web apps integration.
We’ll have lots more on Hotmail coming up, and you can check out (the up until now inaccessible)the blog post on Inside Windows Live.