I’m constantly reminded how slow email actually is.
On the homescreen of one of my smartphones, I’ve got the official Twitter widget and the official Facebook widget which are pretty much constantly refreshing. Likewise, my email inbox is set to refresh just as frequently. Every day, when someone sends me a message in Facebook or replies to a Tweet, the widgets tell me first, and then five minutes later I get the email alerting me again. Because of this, I have an email account just for social network updates that is overflowing with unread messages.
My fast, immediate communications have been shifted to other services, but the more heavyweight content: presentations, photos, and documents are still being sent over email.
Today, Microsoft announced it is releasing a new Windows Live Hotmail this summer to suit the “peoples’ email needs as of 2010,” which includes finding a way to organize all of that semi-relevant junkmail and a way to send even bigger attachments.
The new Hotmail inbox will let users organize their emails in new ways. Where the old inbox just let you sort your emails by date, sender, subject, or size, the new inbox will also let you sort them by category. These categories include: messages from contacts, social network updates, or messages from groups and mailing lists. Because social network updates and mailing list posts are sometimes unwanted, you can sort them by category and push them into folders and out of your principal inbox.
Microsoft is also tying in its SkyDrive cloud storage feature into Hotmail, letting users attach as many as 200 photos each 50MB in size to a single email. The same goes for Office documents like Word files, Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations, you can stick 10 GB of attachments to Live Hotmail email messages.
With Office documents, a bit of productivity has been folded into Hotmail. Users can open the documents in Office Live, make changes, and push them back to the original sender with all the updates.
The update this summer will also add enhanced account protection, full-session SSL, multiple email accounts, subfolders, contact management, and even more storage.