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Hotmail upgrade will make your life better

No, really, Microsoft told us

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Updated If Microsoft is to be believed an upgrade in Hotmail, due to take place today, will make us and the world a better and happier place. Well, it may do if you're a Microsoft shareholder.

In fact, when we heard of this incredible upgrade, we quickly tapped in the magic address but were dismayed to find virtually no change at all.

Apparently it has a new user interface - it was today it was going to be upgraded isn't it? - and loads of other great stuff, most of which fits it with the .NET MS "vision". What this effectively means is that you get two new "Messenger" and "Calendar" buttons on the bar on the right (weren't they there before?). These, unsurprisingly, link to MSN Messenger and MSN Calendar.

Again, we reckon, we must have jumped the boat because an MSN spokeswoman said: "This is a pretty significant change for Hotmail. Consumers will definitely notice the difference." We haven't. Checking out Microsoft's site, we are told the "new functionality will soon be available". So this story should really be about whetting your appetites.

The site will have a new spam filter, which we hope works better than the last one, although we will miss those personal messages from "horny Jane" wondering where we've been recently. The email setup should also look more like Outlook. And Swedish and Dutch have been added to the languages it supports.

All this is part of the .NET, Hailstorm Microsoft idea of one log-on and your life is complete. It should also have tie-ins with Windows XP, due in October. Mind you, we are being a little unfair, Hotmail is free and extremely useful. If it wants to add other free services to it, we have no problem.

If the Hotmail interface does change at some point today (or this week), there will 110 million people that may have some additional use for it. Oh, it is also looking at enlarging your total memory space for emails - for a small fee of course.

Update

A number of readers have been in touch to say that Hotmail did indeed have a new user interface first thing this morning. It was running very slowly though and has since been pulled and replaced with the old interface. Obviously some teething troubles.

However, so far it has been given a big thumbs up. We haven't seen it yet (but we do have a screengrab - see below and sorry for the quality) but from what we've been told it is very blue. The screen includes tools like a thesaurus, spell checker etc. It has tabs for the various functions - Inbox, Compose etc. And basically fits in with the MSN approach and WinXP Luna interface. The features don't appear to be much improved however.

As for the teething troubles, we don't why at the moment but it may be something to do with conflicts with old versions of Internet Explorer. A call to MSN in the States put us into a nightmare circular voice mail situation. And before you ask: No, we haven't enter the twilight world of trying to run it through Navigator yet. ®

screengrab of new Hotmail layout

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