Microsoft is about to announce that Windows Live Mail is being renamed Windows Live Hotmail. The reason I’ve been given is that it is an effort to end the brand confusion, that customer feedback showed so much loyalty and familiarity with the Hotmail brand name that they had to keep it. Microsoft says they want to keep the focus on the great new UI and all the new features, not on a new name or anything like that.
I think it’s a great idea. Hotmail is a hugely famous brand, a part of the internet’s history, but that isn’t the only reason I like the idea of keeping it. There have been a lot of complaints lately about the Windows Live branding, and associating the famous Hotmail brand with the Windows Live name, will clear up confusion, not just about email, but will help associate the entire platform with the old MSN platform, helping users make the link in their heads.
Good choice by Microsoft.
UPDATE: Mail Call, the official Windows Live email blog, announces the change, at just about the same moment I posted this (you’d almost think I was waiting there, or something). Here’s what Richard Sim, senior product manager, had to say:
We also found that many users were extremely loyal to the Hotmail brand and perceived the beta as an upgrade to Hotmail. In fact, our most loyal users have been very happy with Hotmail for years and while they loved the improvements in the beta, some were a bit confused by name change.
As we prepare to launch the final version of our new web mail service, we recognize the importance of ensuring that our 260+ million existing customers come over to the new service smoothly and without confusion. By adopting the name “Windows Live Hotmail”, we believe we’re bringing together the best of both worlds – new and old. We’re able to offer the great new technology that Windows Live has to offer while also bringing the emotional connection many existing and loyal users have with Hotmail.