Monday, February 12, 2007

Windows Live Mail Now 'Live Hotmail'

In an attempt to allay confusion over its new AJAX-enabled webmail system, Microsoft said Thursday that Windows Live Mail was being renamed to Windows Live Hotmail. The decision follows a recent switch to keep the classic Hotmail interface for existing users.

Microsoft says that during beta testing, which began last March, it learned that users were "extremely loyal to the Hotmail brand" and "a bit confused by name change." Therefore, it hopes the Windows Live Hotmail name will reiterate that the new service retains what users liked about the old system.

"As we prepare to launch the final version of our new web mail service, we recognize the importance of ensuring that our 260+ million existing customers come over to the new service smoothly and without confusion," Windows Live Hotmail senior product manager Richard Sim wrote. "We hope you like the approach we're taking and see this as a positive change."


Initial responses weren't that positive, however, noting the constant name-changing and rebranding going on under the Windows Live moniker.

"I understand the notion of loyalty; however, this is a new system and a new service. So why confuse users by merging two names of dissimilar systems. Starting new needs to be seen not as a detriment but as a way to start fresh and lure new customers into the system," replied a user named Dave K.

Other users asked how the name change would affect Windows Live Mail Desktop, the Windows-based application that integrates with the webmail service while offering support for third party POP and IMAP e-mail accounts. "So will we have 'Windows Live Hotmail Desktop Mail for Windows' soon?" quipped a user named Gregor.

Microsoft recently rolled out Milestone 9 of Windows Live Hotmail, but has yet to announce when the system will replace Hotmail. With pressure coming from both Google, Yahoo and AOL, Microsoft is wary about making any major changes to Hotmail that could push users away from the service, even if those changes are simply upgrading functionality.

By Nate Mook, BetaNews.com

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