Windows Live Hotmail launches; “Windows Live Mail” to succeed Outlook Express and Windows Mail

Microsoft just announced that Windows Live Hotmail is launching globally in 36 languages, double the number of languages offered by its predecessor MSN Hotmail.  You can read the press release here.

I talked to Paul Major, Director of Windows Live Hotmail, on Friday to clarify some of the details of the announcement (unfortunately had a few technical problems with the recording, so we’ll work off my notes 🙂 )

Here are the details:

  • First, what this announcement means is that new Hotmail accounts (and no they won’t have addresses yet. What Omar Shahine told us in our interview still holds true, and the first order of business is still the transition) will be created as Windows Live Hotmail accounts.  Existing accounts will be able to migrate over to the new service, but that ability to switch over will continue to be rolled out over the next days and weeks, as it has been already.
  • Current MSN Hotmail users will be encouraged to make the switch in the coming months, and Major said that the transition should be largely complete by November of this year.
  • Two new features are being announced:
    • first, within a few weeks the Outlook Connector for MSN beta will be made available free to all Windows Live Hotmail users. This means free access to Hotmail accounts will be available from Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007.  I asked Paul Major what that means for Hotmail Plus, the paid premium service that was necessary previously to utilitize the Connector.  He said that Hotmail Plus is not going away, and that there are plans for added premium services in the works.
    • next, and as we reported at LiveSide, a new beta to be known as Windows Live Mail will be made available “in the coming weeks” and will be the successor to both Outlook Express and Windows Mail in Vista as Microsoft’s free desktop email client. Major said that anyone using the Windows Live Mail desktop beta will be familiar with “Windows Live Mail”, but how much this new beta will be different from current builds of WLMd remains to be seen. Major said that in the future Windows Live Mail will be the only supported free email client, and all development work going forward will only be on Windows Live Mail.

(So, what was Windows Live Mail is now Windows Live Hotmail, and Windows Live Mail desktop is now Windows Live Mail, and Outlook Express and Windows Mail (in Vista) are being phased out. Wonder if there’s a Live Maps Collections for the name changes??) 

    • In addition, Windows Live Hotmail continues to improve the mobile experience.  Using Windows Live Hotmail for mobile ( WL Hotmail is accessible on a web enabled phone or pda, and Windows Live for Windows Mobile, shipping with Windows Mobile 6 will provide an even better Windows Live Hotmail online and offline experience.