Microsoft has just taken the wraps off the new Hotmail, and yes there’s a lot of new stuff to tell you about, so let’s get right to the good stuff. Yes all the junk mail and filter enhancements are cool too, but they don’t have quite the “sex appeal” that a couple of newly added Hotmail features do, namely Active Views, Photos, and Office integration.
With the release of Hotmail, a new set of “Partner APIs” are going to be made available, first to a set of partners like Flickr, YouTube, Hulu, and for package tracking, the USPS, which will allow you to not only send and receive links, but actually view content from within Hotmail. I talked today to Windows Live Director Walter Harp about the new Hotmail, and he told me that 90% of Hotmail mail contains a link, and so being able to watch a video or see a photo within Hotmail without having to click away as you check through your mail could be a real time saver, as well as being kind of cool and something in the other services.
Even with the popularity of photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa, and even Facebook, the most popular way to share photos is still via email, and the new Hotmail has made it easy to not only share, but share a LOT of photos. Coupled with Windows Live SkyDrive, you will soon be able to share up to 200 50mb photos in a single email (that’s 10GB!). Hotmail will manage the SkyDrive uploads in the background as you compose your mail, so sharing photos won’t be any harder, just a lot better. And of course you’ll be able to share those photos through SkyDrive, as well.
Hotmail users share some 350 million Office documents per month, according to Walter Harp, but now you’ll be able to open and edit those attachments using Office Web Apps and SkyDrive. The new online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, will soon be available free to anyone with a Windows Live ID, and Hotmail users will soon be able to open and view Office documents attached to a Hotmail email from a PC or a Mac in any popular browser. You’ll go right to Office Web Apps, where you view or edit the documents online, take them offline if you have Office installed.
The Hotmail Preview on WindowsLivePreview.com is now live, check it out!