Could Hotmail be making a comeback? It appears the antiquated email service is making moves to get back in the email game, although it technically never went anywhere. The news has some people rolling their eyes, and it's no wonder.
Most people know Hotmail as that email service they used to use, or their friend used to use before moving to Gmail. You may have thought Hotmail was defeated, but the one-time email titans aren't going out without a fight. Time will tell whether Microsoft's email service will be able to compete with Google.
According to WinRumors, Hotmail is rolling out a new set of features sometime in the next month, which the company hopes will attract some new customers. Some of the basics included in the make-over, is the ability to organize and create folders to save emails, and important messages can now be starred with Hotmail's service. These features have been available with Gmail for years, and they're a welcome, if not long overdue addition.
Another somewhat basic, but significant improvement made to Hotmail is the layout. Hotmail is notorious for it's boring, outdated look, seemingly unchanged since it was a popular email service. The new design is much more up-to-date and visually appealing.
A very easy way to lose customers is to design your site so poorly, people don't want to use your service. The new Instant Actions feature also make it easy to organize and navigate your inbox, by simplifying commands to one or two clicks. Users no longer need to open or highlight messages in order to organize their inbox, another time-saving new feature for Hotmail.
Hotmail does deserve credit for their impressive scheduled cleanups feature. It sort of combines spam filtering with Gmail's priority inbox features. This feature allows Hotmail users to schedule messages sent from a specified contact to be moved to the trash after a specified number of days.
Users can set their inboxes to automatically delete all Facebook or LinkedIn notifications after two days. This wont be very useful for people who regularly manage their inboxes, but it can make a real dent in what can seem like a mountain of messages to go through, for less organized users.
If Justin Timberlake hasn't brought MySpace back to life, I'm not sure that a make-over is going to be enough to bring people back to Hotmail. One huge obstacle is that there is no incentive to make the move. At best, Hotmail is catching up to Gmail in features and appeal. Hotmail is going to need some pretty great marketing strategies to get users to make the switch from an email service they're happy with, especially if those users came from your previously sub-par service.
That, or wait for Google to offend it's Gmail users. It doesn't seem likely that Hotmail will ever be real competition for Gmail, but these new features definitely close the gap. Perhaps this month's make-over is just a warm-up and Microsoft has some truly ground-breaking email service features in store for us.