Windows Live Hotmail Wave 3: What’s New

Thanks to some great work by tophtucker and then BV2312, we managed to catch the new Windows Live Hotmail promotion site as soon as it popped up today. What we love about this site is that it has gone public with some of the changes for Windows Live Hotmail that are coming up in the Wave 3 beta. Here’s the summary:

Speed: The coming soon page says that for broadband users, the new Hotmail will be up to 70% faster on sign in (50% for non-broadband users). That’s a pretty big claim, and one which should provide for some interesting testing once the beta is open to the public.

Ever-increasing storage: Microsoft have carefully avoided using the phrase “unlimited storage”, as Yahoo has done, but in a sense this is what is being offered. The figures we last heard for this were the the existing 5GB free accounts would be getting growth of 250MB per month, but this is pre-beta and could have changed and so our usual disclaimer applies. Obviously the PR definitely looks better leaving the figures out, but a free inbox of 8GB by the end of year 1 gives us a warm feeling. (For comparison, Gmail is currently on 7GB and still growing.)

New UI: Along with the new Wave 3 UI, in particular the new header and themes available shown below, the new promotion site suggests that the classic and full versions of Hotmail will be combined together. This potentially means that full functionality could be available across all browsers. Also worth mentioning here are improvements around deadling with spam.

 Windows Live Mail Wave 3 Milestone 2

In terms of Hotmail integrating with other Windows Live services, there’s also some details on that:

WebIM built-in: This feature doesn’t really need much explaining and should be a popular addition. From what we’ve heard it’ll support most of the basic needs such as presence, notifications and chat via the WebMessenger dogfood. Yes its been a while since we’ve spoken about that!

Integrated Calendar: No surprise if you’re on the new Windows Live Calendar beta to hear there will be integration between the two services.

Easier to send group emails: Thanks to the new Windows Live Groups service (go ABCH!) it’ll be easier to email all those contacts in one go

And of course there is stuff not on the PR site that we’ve heard about, including the long-rumoured POP support for other mail clients and using Skydrive for storing photos sent via Photo Mail.

Unfortunately if you’re now excited about giving the new Hotmail a try, we haven’t seen any links to sign up for a public beta. As soon as we do though, we’ll let you know. Keep those tips coming, either in the comments or via email.