A couple of folks at work have been commenting on how the blogosphere has been raving about a couple of recent announcements from Google yet seemed to ignore similar functionality when it showed up in competing products. Here are three examples from this week.

  1. In his post entitled I know, cry me a river Reeves Little writes

    Case in point: looks like Google is in some sort of closed beta for a domains service and the digerati are all a-buzz.  Hmmm... turns out some of my colleagues in Redmond launched a new domains service for Windows Live way back in November, it's open to the public AND we have a bunch of folks using it including a slew of universities around the world

    I like that there is a Windows Live @ edu video so people can see what the program is like. But as Reeves points out, you don't have to be an educational institution to bring your own domain to Microsoft and have us host your email. With domains.live.com anyone can do that.

  2. In his post entitled Hotmail & IM Mike Torres writes

    The web is abuzz with talk of Google's new Gmail feature; Gmail Chat. I'm not too happy about giving one of our competitors airplay on my blog for integration that has been available in Hotmail for years... so instead, I'll take this opportunity to discuss the Hotmail features in a little more depth.  Note that I'm talking about the vanilla, standard-issue Hotmail used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide - not the amazing Windows Live Mail currently in limited beta testing.
    If you're already using Hotmail, you may know that Hotmail blended instant messaging with email a while back in a bunch of interesting ways. We started with merging your contact list into a unified list; a project I worked on about three years ago when I first joined MSN. Your Hotmail (or Windows Live Mail) contact list and your MSN Messenger (or Windows Live Messenger) contact list are one and the same - the only difference is that some contacts are "Messenger enabled".  It's fun to see other service providers start to pick up on this concept, as we've always thought this approach made a lot of sense.  A contact is a contact is a contact!

    Now that you've got your unified contact list... from within Hotmail, you can also see online presence information (online/offline/away) next to any email you receive or from within the Contacts tab (provided you have access to that contact's presence).
    Taking this a step further, whenever you receive an email from someone on your contact list, you can "Instant Reply" via IM instead of sending an email. Very handy feature for those of us smitten with IM. The Instant Reply feature immediately pops open a conversation window, complete with voice, video, games, and of course, text chat. No shortage of things to do with your friends here!

    But one of the great (and somewhat unsung) features in Hotmail is its ability to use MSN Web Messenger (http://webmessenger.msn.com) if you don't have the MSN Messenger client running on your PC. This means you don't have to install anything to get this stuff to sing. It just works for you.  When you sign-in to Hotmail, you immediately - without having to run anything else - have the ability to send and receive instant messages and check to see if your contacts are online.  Of course, things get a lot more interesting if you download MSN/Windows Live Messenger (http://messenger.msn.com) but if you're at a friend's house or at a kiosk in Bali, you don't have to.

    The IM integration into all of Microsoft's mail offerings (both Outlook & Hotmail) is something I keep seeing people ignore whenever they talk about IM integration in mail clients.

  3. Last but not least is Brandon Paddock's post entitled Want to search all your PCs from anywhere? Use Windows Desktop Search. where he writes

    Want to search all your PCs from anywhere?

    Don’t want all your personal data stored on an advertising companies’ server?

    Then you should try Windows Desktop Search combined with the free FolderShare application.  With FolderShare your data remains safely on your PCs, but you can search, browse, and access your data from any internet-connected PC.  FolderShare added search integration with WDS last summer.  They were acquired by Microsoft a few months ago and the product was made free at that time.

    Also, here’s more discussion about Google’s new "feature."

And that's just this week. Whew...