I need Microsoft Internet Explorer more or less to check how websites look like. If you're in web marketing, it is just something you must do every once in a while. Afterall, there's like 50% traffic still comming from IE.
I had a hotmail account once. More or less for nothing since at that time I was used to more "personal" email addresses. Didn't trust some out in a space thingy called "hot"whatever.
Yesterday IE told me that there's a brand new hotmail for me. So I decided to check it out. Well, I'm with gmail and other google services for few years now. And loving it. So what more can Hotmail offer me?
As it turned out, some nice things. Design is simple, textual and very well translated. No useless information about the amount of my inbox, advertisments nicely on the right side. Very nice calendar that seems very google for beginners functional. Composing email seems like a nice experience with much better smilies than gmail's. It even checked my recepients and suggested some that I add some that are not in my addressbook yet. Document upload (attachment) was excellent. Importing contacts from gmail and facebook worked with weird ending but did it's job.
It is obvious that hotmaili works very cool for common Windows users. It is something a regular secretary must be loving if she works on MS Windows and office otherwise.
But mostly, there's Google documents, blogger, sites, Picasa and Buzz that are just beating hotmail by miles. And talking about wave that died but lives in documents? Well, Microsoft has a long road in front of them to make all of these things a"live".
So it seems, but wait a moment. Is it really that far? And is the fight really only about these things? Might just turn out that Microsoft is even more prepared then we can imagine:
1. From Vista, Microsoft seems to handle photo tags quite nicely. So all they need to convince me is to upload photos to live service. From within Windows explorer? Now that could just rock. Geo tagging and sharing are no mystery to MS.
2. There are experiments with office live and perhaps in few months you could be actually working on a document live, inside browser (making it at least competitive with google documents). With all the office toolbar options? With pivot tables in Excel? With graphs from Excel? With all Powerpoint animations? Google documents would be history in a stage at which they are now.
3. Adding some AJAX (labs) to email with some "public plugins" might not be that hard
4. Connect windows profile with live profile and have some magical desktop social tool to handle all tweets and FB status posts, together with "live people" doesn't seem such a hard programming thingy.
5. Since the battle of the future will be on "profiles", who do you trust more? "Live" or "Google"? What is easier for you to use? One-stop Windows sign-in or Windows+Google Sign in?
Well, that's a few points and of course we should be examining all the other features as well (google services go much further). But now it is more clear to me why Google ever tried to push its own operating system. Because that single sign-in will be very important in the future. And Microsoft can buy other services no-time.
To me it seems that Microsoft is heading in the right direction to become a nasty online competitor to all of the existing no1 players. Facebook included. And users should benefit the most of this battle.