LiveSide has the details on the Windows Live Admin Center, which replaces the old Live Custom Domains and lets you do more than just use a hosted Live Hotmail domain name. You can now customize all sorts of subdomains to Windows Live services, such as setting a blog.yoursite.com URL to a WIndows Live Space, or setting a maps.yoursite.com URL to a custom Live Maps Collection mashup.
Windows Live Wave 2.0 enjoyed its final release today, with a huge amount of websites and software getting new or final non-beta releases. The new Windows Live Installer is out, with new or final versions of Messenger, Mail, Writer, and Photo Gallery, and for the the first time, the installer supports 64-bit systems (but not for Family Safety). You can directly download the installer here.
Windows Live Calendar, available within Live Hotmail, should also be available today to all users. Just sign into your Live ID account, then go to calendar.live.com, and you should be set. Adding events is easy, just double-click on a date, and you can set the basic details (or click to edit advanced options). You can create multiple calendars, with multiple options for sharing or setting co-owners of calendars. I’m enjoying playing around with it the last half hour, and it even sort of/almost works in Opera.
The news you need to know right now: Live.com email addresses are available right now. Not just Live.com, but Live.at, live.be, windowslive.com, live.co.uk and many more. Here is the whole list, courtesy LiveSide:
HONG KONG LIVE.HK
SOUTH AFRICA LIVE.CO.ZA
Head to get.live.com/getlive/overview for all the domains or this link for Live.com email addresses. Now that Live.com email addresses can be linked, you can get the Hotmail.com and Live.com versions of your email, or a better Live.com version, and switch between Hotmail inboxes with a simple click.
Windows Live Calendar, which has been developing in secret for at least two years now, is finally rolling out, with everyone seemingly getting it, just in stages. I don’t have it yet on any of my accounts, but someone at LiveSide has access, and posted screenshots and some thoughts. When I have access, I’ll do a nice review, but until then, here are the things you need to know:
- The interface is clean, very clean. It’s great, but some users will want to skin it.
- You can have multiple calendars, and color them differently.
- You can get reminders for events, with different types of reminders for each calendar. Reminders can be customized and even sent through Live Alerts.
- You can share access and editing of the calendar.
- XML and ICS feeds for calendars.
- ICS importing, including from Outlook and Google Calendar.
- No syncing of private calendars, just shared ones, so you can’t sync your desktop Outlook with Live Calendar to access on the go.
- No interaction with MSN Calendar, no importing or easy way to switch/upgrade.
Windows Live Hotmail Plus now offers POP access to email, letting users of any email client (or certain web-based email, like Gmail), to download their emails automatically from Hotmail and never use the Hotmail website. Currently, its only available to those Hotmail Plus users, who pay for additional storage and features like this, but Microsoft is saying it also plans to offer POP access, in some form, to free Hotmail users in the next 12 months.
Our POP service requires that you use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) with the POP and SMTP connection and use SMTP authentication. This is to ensure that your email address and password are not subject to tampering. The settings are the following:
- POP: pop3.live.com (port 995)
- SMTP: smtp.live.com (port 25)
Note: make sure you check the box that indicates that your outgoing server requires authentication (in most mail clients this is not checked by default).
- Username: your full email address
- Password: your Windows Live ID password
Went into my Hotmail account and saw some great news: My inbox was running out of space. The reason why this didn’t suck? It meant Microsoft had finally cancelled my MSN Premium subscription and I could upgrade to Windows Live Hotmail!
I liked some of the perks of MSN Premium, some of the free stuff, but if you are going to ignore the needs of your customers and give upgrades to everyone but a bunch of paying customers, you don’t deserve my business. Goodbye, MSN Premium, hello three-pane AJAX goodness and a five-gig inbox (three gigs bigger than my MSN Premium inbox).
Microsoft and Nokia announced an agreement bring Windows Live applications to the Nokia S60 phones in 11 countries. Customers will have the Windows Live Suite available on their phone, including Windows Live Hotmail, Messenger, Contacts and Spaces. LiveSide has some details and screenshots, including that Live Hotmail will not feature push email (it does have that on Windows Mobile phones), but that the phone’s camera can take pictures and video and attach them to emails.
The services included, from Phil Holden:
- Live Contacts. Once you sign in for the first time your Live Contacts is auto-magically synchronized within the address book of the Nokia device. As well as names, address’s, email and the other usual stuff what’s nice about this, and I think pretty unique is that the online presence and status of your contacts show up within the phone list. So now from within the device address book you can find whoever you want to communicate with and leverage the presence/status to determine the best way to reach them.
- Messenger. At sign-in you can change your online picture and your status. Once online you obviously can browse your messenger contacts and take part in multiple conversations as you would expect. What I love is that the services integrate features from within the phone, so when you are within a conversation you can send a voice clip, file or picture - either from the gallery or snap one with the camera. When I think about how powerful voice and pictures are this enables a great scenario for traveling: sign-in, find your friend and start conversation, then speak “hey honey, I just got into the hotel in Sydney, look at my amazing view” and then take a picture out of your hotel room of the Opera House.
- Hotmail. So here there is good integration with the Nokia email client and your Hotmail gets loaded into a separate folder within the client. Because the emails are downloaded they are available when you are offline. Right now your email isn’t synchronized auto-magically, but its a simple process to goto options, select sync etc. When you are composing an email, just like messenger the phone features are integrated so that you can insert a picture, voice clip, video or other phone right into the email message.
- Spaces. Not surprisingly there is good Spaces support. On Nokia devices there is an application called ‘online share’ which comes with plug-in’s for Flickr and Vox and now we added Spaces support. There is a simple process to activate the service by adding your Live ID and once that is done the Gallery is now Live enabled. It’s super easy, select the photo you want, goto options, open online service and it will promote you to add a title and text and the the image is load up to your blog.
The Windows Live Hotmail team put out a big update today, giving free Hotmail account an amazing five gigabytes of email storage. While Yahoo has unlimited inboxes, Gmail offers a little more than half that with 2.8 gigabytes. And while Google just announced a program to pay for more storage, $20 a year for six gigs more, while Hotmail will double you to ten gigabytes for the same price.
The big inbox wasn’t the only news. They also rolled out in the update:
- Improved performance
- Changes into the amount of time junk and deleted mail are retained
- The ability to merge duplicate contacts
- An easier way to view blocked images
- Phishing reporting
- Support for right-to-left languages
- Smaller header (devoting more page space to read email)
- Automatic forwarding of your mail to other Hotmail accounts (paid accounts can forward to Gmail, Yahoo, or anywhere else)
- Branded email hosting for universities
- Accepting Outlook meeting requests in the Hotmail Calendar
- Auto-replies for when you go on vacation
- The ability to go to your inbox by default, instead of the Today page
LiveSide has some extra details, like the news that 200 million accounts are already using Hotmail, and many are switching over. There’s also a tool that helps you switch from other email providers to Hotmail, copying your old emails, address book, and notify all your old contacts of the new email. Looks like Windows Live Calendar or a web version of Messenger might be coming in the next few weeks.
LiveSide just posted a new hack for getting a live.com email address (as opposed to Hotmail.com), and it worked B-E-A-utifully. I got a nice vanity email to match my Gmail address, and you should head over there and try it yourself.
Here’s how it works (and hurry, they disable these hacks pretty fast):
- Go to Hotmail.com
- Click “Sign Up”
- Click “Get it free”
- On the next page, Sign Up For Windows Live, change the URL in two places. Where it says hmnewuser.aspx, remove the letters “hm” at the beginning. Then, find where it says &hm=1 and just delete that. Press enter.
That’s it! The signup page should now say Live.com for the email address you are choosing, instead of Hotmail.com. Enjoy your new cool email domain, baby!
Microsoft has released a free public beta of the Office Outlook Connecter software, which allows Outlook to access Windows Live Hotmail accounts for free. The new software (a previous paid version was discountinued a few years ago and sorely missed) includes offline access, categorization, flagging, instant search, business cards, the todo bar and more for free, and requires premium access to Hotmail for syncing of calendars, tasks and notes.
Yahoo has learned a lesson Microsoft picked up during the Windows Live Mail/Hotmail beta, that the less experienced users who make up the brunt of their free email services are hard to innovate for. Yahoo announced late last week it was rolling into the new Yahoo Mail some features it had dropped from the old Mail. The most obvious one: the return of checkboxes.
Yahoo had dropped the checkbox normally placed next ot every email message, just like Microsoft did, replacing it with the more desktop-like metaphor of holding down CTRL and clicking to select multiple messages, and CTRL+A to select all. Based on user feedback, they found out that users were confused and unfamiliar with the new system, and just plain didn’t like it.
When you’ve got a userbase that isn’t as technically inclined as many users of longstanding free email services are, you wind up with a resistance to change. Microsoft made a number of changes to Windows Live Hotmail to accomodate these users (too many, you ask me), in order to assure the new mail client would be well-received.
There’s another to consider: Just because Windows has a feature, doesn’t mean people use it. Almost every casual user I’ve ever met has no idea that holding down CTRL lets you select multiple files. And myself? Even though I’d been using CTRL-click forever, when Windows Vista turned out to have a feature adding in checkboxes for files, I turned it on and never looked back.
CTRL-click is annoying! Holding down one stupid key with my left pinky while clicking, knowing that letting go of that key will screw me up, it just isn’t worth it. Checkboxes are the way to go, and the more applications that use them, the better.
Here’s the second video blog for InsideMicrosoft, fourth overall, and the last before my stiches came out (about two hours ago). Typing is still a pain, but expect new blog posts as the weekend dies down.
I think this is the best camera angle so far. I had to tape my camera to a lamp to get it, though. I need a tripod, bad.
AppleWatch Live: Episode 1 - AppleWatch
Microsoft Surface computing
Microsoft to take the wraps off ‘PlayTable’ - All About Microsoft
Microsoft hopes ‘Milan’ table PC has magic touch - Ina Fried at C|Net
Microsoft’s Mystery Product Is… A Touch-Sensitive Table? - Gizmodo
All Things D Wednesday Morning Session with Ballmer and the Surface Table - Gizmodo
Microsoft Surface: Behind-the-Scenes First Look (with Video) - Popular Mechanics
New Windows Live betas
Windows Live Mail, Live Writer & Messenger 8.5 Beta - Neowin
Windows Live Messenger 8.5 beta available - LiveSide
Windows Live Writer Beta 2 - Updated Finally - LiveSide
Windows Live Mail goes into beta - LiveSide
Vista Beta/RC expired
Are you running Windows Vista Beta versions? - Veni, Vidi, Velcro…
Microsoft and Walmart in court over child’s death
Microsoft, Wal-Mart sued over baby’s death
Darren Straight got a Windows Live Hotmail poli shirt for being a UK Windows Live Hotmail beta tester. U.S. testers got email signatures. Not to show any sour grapes, but I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t mind a shirt for testing it, either. Are all British testers getting the shirt (and not American testers), or did Darren just get it as a personal thank you?
Here’s another bunch of t-shirts, ones you can buy, and they all feature famous error messages. You can pick up several versions of the Blue Screen of Death, 404 error pages, or even “
Bad command or file name“. It’s not a new store, but it is worth checking out.
Although this was something that has been imminent for a month, had already happened in other countries, and everyone knew was coming today, it’s still great to note that Windows Live Hotmail has launched. After a long beta process, what was Kahuna, then Live Mail, and now Hotmail, has become Microsoft’s official web-based email software, marking a new generation for the world’s most used email service.
One thing that returns with the launch of Live Hotmail is the Outlook connector, which allows Outlook to connect with Hotmail accounts to use the desktop software with the webmail account. It’s enormously convenient, and something that had been taken away from free Hotmail users, and the return is a wonderful thing for everybody.
Also coming in the next few weeks: Windows Live Mail. Now, don’t freak out, it isn’t another name change (as of just a bunch of weeks ago, Live Hotmail was Live Mail), but rather a new name for the Live desktop email client. Since Live Mail became Live Hotmail, someone must have realized that Windows Live Mail Desktop didn’t need such a crappy name, and it is now called Windows Live Mail. Great move. It is the only free email client that will work with Live Hotmail accounts, and will replace Windows Vista Mail (which is fine, since it has much better features).
Also, all new Hotmail accounts will be on the Live Hotmail system, meaning there is no way to get an old Hotmail account anymore. No one on the old Hotmail is being forced over, and probably will not be for a long time, but new users get introduced to the wonderful new interface Live Hotmail brings.
All indications are that the long beta process for Windows Live Hotmail is drawing to a close. Live Hotmail beta testers got an email telling them of the “rewards” for participating in the beta. Testers get a special “Beta Signature Badge”, an image they can put in their email signatures letting others know they were one of the first. While this might make for some nice geek cred, I know my wife, a beta tester, was confused, and was dissapointed when she realized she wasn’t getting an actual, physical badge, which would have been far cooler.
The badges are:
I liked the third one best, but she was more into the first one. Of course, she was the tester, not me, so her opinion wins.
The other gift is $100 off a Gateway FX530 PC with Windows Vista Ultimate. Of course, since you have to be spending at least nine hundred dollars on a PC to get the coupon, and adding Vista Ultimate to a Vista Premium PC costs $160, I doubt you’ll be seeing more than a very small number of people taking advantage of this offier. They also “offer” you the Buy Local promotion, which is confusing, because it’s already available to everyone.
I’m not saying these rewards are bad. The badge is cute, not for everyone, and the savings try, but ultimately don’t deliver. Maybe they should have just made some physical badges and send them out, or given some Microsoft Points or something.
Didn’t notice this in my wife’s account, but Windows Live Hotmail apparently has this cool unsubscribe feature. Legitimate email marketers (not spammers, but mailing list guys) can add code to their emails that reveals an Unsubscribe button in Hotmail, ensuring that users who don’t want their emails don’t add them to a spam blacklist instead of unsubscribing.
That’s a very cool feature, designed to seperate the good stuff you aren’t interested from the crap you never asked for. They’ve even improved the feature, sending the user to a page on the email marketers website where you can unsubscribe from specific mailing lists, not just all of them.
(Found on Findory)
Microsoft is making several subtle and smart moves to improve its inconsistent and unimaginative branding schemes:
Mary Jo Foley talks about Windows Live branding, which is being pushed to be more consistent and make more sense. Major Windows Live sites are being rebranded as just “Live”, as in “Live Search”, “Live QnA” and “Live Maps”, while other services are being moved to MSN or being unofficially shuttered altogether. Windows Live Academic Search, Book Search and Search Translation are no longer being listed as seperate services, and it might be wise for them to consolidate more services in order to keep things in the realm of sanity.
Microsoft renamed WPF/E to Silverlight. Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere was an enormously wonderful system from Microsoft that allows the use of WPF graphics in web browsers, even Firefox and on Macs, bringing some amazing visuals to web apps, but it had a really crappy name. Now, it’s called Silverlight, and if you don’t think names are important, witness the attention Silverlight is getting on TechMeme. Yeah, now it’s important, whereas no one was paying attention to WPF/E.
Oh, and Microsoft MVP David Silverlight says it was named after him.
Remember Windows Live Barcode? Well, looks like Microsoft realized that it didn’t make sense as a Live service, taken it down, and made the service more interesting. The newly planned barcode, called a High Capacity Color Bar Code, will be in color, four or eight different hues to store significantly more data, and uses neat triangle shapes within the code to look much less jarring than the average bar code. It is designed for high quality printing (DVDs initially, followed by TV and display advertising) and to be read by consumers with camera phones or web cams, not shipping labels.
Finally, a long-standing Windows Live Beta is nearing final release. Windows Live Hotmail (nee’ Mail) is dropping the beta tag next month (and has already done so in Belgium and India). Other countries are getting it first, due to that being easier (smaller userbases), but expect U.S. users to get the final release (which is indistinguishable from release M10) in the first or second week of May.
LiveSide is reporting that Microsoft is indeed offering a premium level of service for Windows Live Hotmail users (Windows Live Mail accounts should have all by now switched to the new branding), and that Windows Live Hotmail Plus accounts get 4 gigabytes of email storage space. MSN Hotmail users don’t get the bigger storage, so they will need to upgrade to Windows Live to double their inbox space.
Annoyingly, they still won’t let MSN Premium users, who have Hotmail Plus accounts as part of their service, upgrade to Windows Live Hotmail and get the bigger inboxes and much improved interface. My wife has been enjoying Windows Live Hotmail for almost a year now, completely free, and I can’t get it because I’ve actually contributed revenue to MSN. Ridiculous!
The latest update to Windows Live Mail is slowly being pushed out to users of Microsoft’s advanced webmail service, and this release changes the branding to Windows Live Hotmail. If your inbox says Hotmail, you’ve got the upgrades, which include spell check and improved photo uploading in classic mode, a version picker between Classic and Full, more checkboxes, an improved safety bar, and the usual performance improvements.
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