In the post Update to Windows Live Mail Beta Imran Qureshi of the Hotmail Windows Live Mail team discusses some of the new features that were just added to the beta. The list of improvements from Imran's post is excerpted below

1. Safety Improvements

We're laser focused in the area of spam and safety with Windows Live Mail and have already made major improvements over other webmail services. Never one to rest on our laurels, we simplified and consolidated the safety experience even more in M4. 

We automatically calculate a safety level for each mail using over eight checks.  The three safety levels are: "Known sender", "Unknown sender" or "Unsafe". You can always click on "Why?" to find out why a mail was marked as such and what you can do to change the safety level of this sender. How much simpler can it be…

(Screenshots: Known sender  |  Known sender (after clicking Why)  |  Unknown sender  |  Unsafe)

Kahuna has already been helping identify Phishing mails to help protect our customers -- now we make them more noticeable so you won’t be duped into clicking on them.

(Screenshots:  Real PayPal Mail  | Phishing Mail pretending to be PayPal)

Oh and if you were one of those people who didn’t like having message  text shown in mails in the Junk Mail Folder, now the default is that message content is not rendered in Junk Mail Folder until you say you want to see it.

(Screenshots: JMF Folder)

2. Fast Search

Vroom, vroom! The new indexed search is fast and it searches message bodies. The UI is the same as M3 but the engine underneath is brand spanking new. We’re rolling it out slowly - not every user will get it right away so be patient.

How you tell if you have the new search engine: If the infobar in your search results does NOT say the following then you have the new search engine:

"Note: At this time, the mail beta searches only the subject and addresses."

3. Spell Check as you Type

Ok this is one feature that turned out better than we thought.  Just start typing in Compose and we’ll check spelling in the background and put red squiggles under words that are misspelled. You can then right-click them and choose from our suggestions, tell us to ignore that word or add the word into the dictionary. 

I know what you’re saying. Big deal, Outlook already does that. Well, we’re the first webmail service I know that does this on the web without installing any software! 

(Screenshots: Spell Check As You Type)

4. Scrollable message and contact list. 

We know you want to see more than 14 messages at a time in the message list. Well now you can see 50 messages at a time.

Why should contacts be any different? In contacts now, you can see all your contacts in one list.

(Screenshots: Scrollable message list   | Scrollable contact list)

5. Configurable reading pane

Now you and I know that reading pane is the best thing to ever happen to webmail. But for some strange reason a few people don’t like it. Well, if you happen to be one of those people you can now turn off the reading pane.

(Screenshots: Configuration options  | reading pane turned off)

6. Resizable panes

Your folder names are long or you like the message list to be wider? Just grab the edges of the panes and resize them to how you like it. Your customization is maintained the next time you login (on the same machine).

(Screenshots: resized panes)

7. Improved Error Message Discoverability

We’ve also made our error message easier to notice by moving them closer to where your eye is, adding icons and changing their color to a more visible color.

(Screenshots: Error message in Contacts)

8. Easier to send mail when you don’t know email address

Admit it. This is how you send mail: You find a mail from that person. You reply to it and then delete the original content of the mail. 

Well if this is you, then Kahuna makes this easy. Find the mail and click on the From address. We start a new mail to that person.

(Screenshots: Clickable sender email address)

Or let’s say you were in contacts to find the email address of some friend. Well, normally you’d copy the email address, go back to mail, click New and then paste in the email address. Well, now you can just drag the contact to the Mail tab and voila, we start an email to that person.

9. Support for browsers other than IE6 & higher

Testers can access all Mail Beta functionality using Internet Explorer version 6.0.   But we know some of you like to use other browsers. With M4 we now also support additional browsers including Firefox, Netscape or Opera. We're still a bit of a work in progress here, so apologies if there are still some glitches (we are focused on making sure core email functionality is solid, but some of the bells and whistles work better with IE6+).

10. Empty Junk Mail Folder or Deleted Items Folder with one click

Lots of users asked for the ability to empty these folders easily. Now you can right-click on them and choose Empty.

(Screenshots: Right-click menu on Junk Mail Folder)

11. Print Messages

Ok, we had this in M3 also but it was hidden in the Actions menu. Now it’s on the main toolbar so you can easily find and click it.

(Screenshots: Print button)

All of these are great improvements especially the Firefox support. I'm trying it out right now and so far so good.


Categories: Windows Live
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Friday, December 2, 2005 12:01:30 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Sounds very cool (and for once I like the name change - "Hotmail" was always a bit sounds-a-lot-like-something-dodgy embarrassing).

Will the spell checking be able to handle non-US English?
Sunday, December 4, 2005 6:33:24 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Yes, it does handle non-US English. All you Canadians and Brits can rest easy now :)
Tuesday, December 6, 2005 10:00:39 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
What does it take to get enrolled in the Beta ?
How does the selection process work ?
I signed up for Live Mail (following the sign-up link:, and I did it the very day was launched to the general public... still haven't had any reply at all in a month...
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