We’ve kept ourselves busy this summer. A few months ago, we released a re-invented Windows Live Hotmail designed around what people said they wanted—a more efficient service to help them manage clutter with features like Sweep and one-click filters, save time with ActiveViews, share hundreds of large photos in a single email, and be more productive with Office by viewing and editing documents right from Hotmail

Following this release, you may have noticed a string of smaller updates. Some were planned, like push email, calendar, and contacts through Exchange ActiveSync, but others were the results of feedback we received and acted on during the rollout. We put a lot of time and effort into careful planning, but we also recognize that with any release, we can improve, so we do our best to listen closely and respond actively to feedback. Some of the feedback we’ve addressed with updates in the last few weeks include the way you can view message source (right-click in the Inbox is back!), an easier reply action in threaded conversations, and more visible signout for the integrated Messenger on the web. (See our Facebook page for more details.)

In addition to these adjustments, we’re beginning today to roll out new features and highlight new partners that will continue to address the customer needs we focused on this summer.

Track packages referenced in your email from Hotmail

Emails that include a package tracking number will now light up in Hotmail thanks to ActiveViews, which automatically recognize the number and display the real time shipping status above the email, saving you a trip to the shipper’s website. The US Postal Service is fully supported, and with this new release, our new partner FedEx will be as well, with light versions for DHL and UPS that provide a link to the shipper’s website instead of full shipping details inside the email.

Chat with Facebook friends in Hotmail

We recently announced that Messenger would let you chat with your Facebook friends. We released this into the beta of our Messenger app for your PC a few weeks ago, and last week we added this into Messenger on your iPhone. We’re now adding this ability to chat with Facebook friends into Hotmail, making it easier for the 250 million Hotmail users that also use Facebook to stay in touch with those friends. Initially, this will be available in the US, UK, France, Brazil, Germany, and Russia, and we will continue to expand this offering to more regions over time.

Share photos more easily with expanded coverage and new features

Email is the most popular place to share photos, with 1.5 billion pictures shared each month on Hotmail alone. But attachment size limits have long made the process cumbersome. Over the summer, Hotmail became the first service to let you to send hundreds of large photos per email, up to 10 GB of photos per email, by sharing them as a new photo album on SkyDrive. Today, this option is only available in the US, but with this release, we are rolling it out worldwide.

We also know that there are times when sharing photos or files as regular attachments is necessary, so we’re increasing the total attachment size limit per email to 25MB, saving you time by letting you send what you want with fewer emails.

View more videos from inside Hotmail

Earlier this summer we helped people save time by viewing Hulu and YouTube videos within any email containing a link to content on those sites. With this release we’re supporting videos from two more fantastic partner sites, Dailymotion and Justin.tv.

Organize and find important email with Subfolders

If you like to use folders to organize your important emails and find them more quickly later, you have something in common with nearly 100 million other Hotmail “filers”. The new Hotmail lets you create folders inside of folders to more precisely manage your email, making it easier to quickly find an important message you’ve filed away.

We believe that these features will benefit people using Hotmail with a more efficient email experience that saves time and is just more fun to use. During the rollout, we want everything to go smoothly as new features are added, so we will start by upgrading a small percentage of our accounts, and as the kinks are worked out, quickly roll the features out to everyone. This process will take a few weeks, so if you don’t see the new features right away, rest assured that they’ll arrive soon.

Dick Craddock
Group Program Manager
Windows Live Hotmail