New Hotmail begins rolling out, coming to all customers in “next few weeks”

Windows Live HotmailJust over a month ago, Microsoft revealed several new features coming to the next Hotmail update, asking users to “give Hotmail another look”. Last week, our friend Michael Gillett was also able to get in touch with the Microsoft Hotmail team in London to get a few more insights to the upcoming Hotmail update, which is said to have started rolling out to a very small cluster of users around the world (at random). In fact, we noticed last week that Microsoft has already rolled out updates to the Windows Live Calendar and Accounts to Wave 5 M2, signifying the rollout to the rest of Windows Live web services, including Hotmail, is not far away.

Today the Hotmail team has posted on the official Inside Windows Live blog confirming that the roll out of the new Hotmail is currently in progress, and will be made available to all customers within the next few weeks.

The new release of Hotmail is rolling out now … We expect the release to be in the hands of all of our customers in the next few weeks.

The blog post also went into details of what is coming in the next Hotmail update, and explaining how users (both casual and power users) can take advantage of the new flagging, custom categories, and quick action features to organise their inbox better. In summary, the next Hotmail update is expected to bring the following new features:

  • New flagging behaviour – now you can flag a message and it will stay at the top of your inbox. And of course, it only takes one click to add—or remove—a flagged message.

    New Flagging

  • Newsletter filtering – manage your incoming newsletters more easily with Sweep and Quick Views. In addition, Hotmail makes it easier to identify, manage, and lets you unsubscribe from them.

    Newsletter Filtering

  • Custom categories – in addition to folders, you can also now create your own custom categories for your emails, and quickly access them under the Quick View menu. And best of all, these will work with the Sweep option too.

    Custom Categories

  • Instant actions – make the most common tasks, like deleting emails or assigning categories, faster. Instant Action buttons appear as you hover over a message that let you delete, flag, mark as unread, sweep, etc., and these are all customisable so you can you can add/remove buttons, customize the order of buttons, or turn off Instant Actions altogether to suit your needs.

    Instant Actions

  • Scheduled sweep – a new feature under “Sweep” now lets you automatically keep only the latest mail from a sender, or have their emails moved to a folder or deleted after 30, 60, or 90 days.

    Schedule Cleanup

  • Improved folder management – you can now manage folders inline, or directly right-click folders to rename, delete, empty, or mark entire folder as read/unread within Hotmail.
  • Mini calendar on sidebar – now you can quickly glance at your calendar directly within Hotmail, with a mini-calendar now available in the sidebar. We’ve seen this before though, haven’t we?

Let us know in the comments below if you’re seeing the new Hotmail or not, and if you’re one of the lucky ones, let us know what you think of the new updates!