The new Hotmail includes a number of features that have made Google‘s Gmail popular, notably the option to group emails to and from the same person or persons together as ‘conversations’. (Unlike in Gmail, however, this will be an option; users who prefer to see all their emails separated and in the order in which they were received can still do so.)
We haven’t seen the new Hotmail in action, but on paper, its new features make it suddenly look like a superior service:
- Microsoft claims that there will no longer be any storage limit whatsoever. (Google offers about 7GB of storage.)
- Hotmail will now allow up to 10GB of attachments to a single email, orders of magnitude greater than its competitors.
- In another feature formerly exclusive to Gmail, Hotmail will now display YouTube videos in emails containing links to them. But Hotmail will provide similar functionality for far more sites than does Google. Users will be able to accept Facebook friend requests within Hotmail, for instance.
Webmail is an important battle for the the top Internet companies, because it ties users to a service, effectively making it their home base on the web. If users have to keep visiting a site to check their email, they are more likely to stay there for news and media consumption.
Google will no doubt fire back with many of the same features soon, but for now, Hotmail might be the most powerful webmail service out there.