What’s new with the latest Hotmail update?

Last month Microsoft announced a string of updates to be rolled out to Hotmail users within the next few months. The updates included Facebook chat support within Hotmail’s web messenger, sub-folders support, increase in attachment size limit to 25MB, new partners for ActiveViews (FedEx, Dailymotion, and Justin.tv), and the release of Office Web Apps and SkyDrive integration worldwide. It appears that these updates have been rolled out to a majority of Hotmail users as of yesterday. Here’s a screenshot of the new Facebook chat in Hotmail in action:

Facebook Chat in Hotmail

However, besides these officially announced new features, we’ve also noticed some nice additions to Windows Live Home, Hotmail, Contacts as part of this update. Here’s some of them that we’ve noticed:

  • Automatic Vacation Replies are back! Back in April 2010, Hotmail team had to temporarily turn off vacation replies due to security concerns related to spammers abusing this feature. As of this update, this feature has been re-enabled, with a new checkbox at the bottom to ensure that your vacation replies are only sent to your contacts, and not spammers:
    Vacation Reply
  • Upcoming Events now on Hotmail Highlights on Windows Live Home. Previously, Hotmail Highlights only showed your e-mails and upcoming birthdays, but with little integration with your Calendar events. Hotmail Highlights now shows the next three events on your Windows Live Calendar:
    Hotmail highlights - Upcoming Events
  • Manage Limited Access. Previously Windows Live Profile provided you with the ability to add your Hotmail or Messenger contacts to your “limited access” list. However, you could only do this for any new contacts that you’ve added, and not for any existing contacts. Now by clicking on Your friends > Manage access in Windows Live Contacts, you can get to the pages where you can easily move contact to and from the “limited access” list:
    Manage Limited Access
  • Restore Deleted Contacts. Windows Live Contacts now provide the ability for you to restore any deleted contacts that were deleted within the past 30 days, in case you have accidently deleted someone, or if someone else had accessed your account and deleted your contacts:
    Restore Deleted Contacts
  • Jump List support on Internet Explorer 9 and Windows 7. If you’re using the new IE9 beta and Windows 7, try pinning Hotmail to your taskbar. You should now see quick links to access your Windows Live Home, Hotmail, Contacts, and Calendar:
    (Don’t forget to pin LiveSide to your Windows 7 taskbar too!)

Sadly, it appears that full-session SSL support has not yet been enabled as part of this update, but we expect that this will be coming very shortly to Hotmail, Calendar and Contacts. Have you noticed any other changes as part of this update? Let us know by leaving a comment below!