Microsoft formally released its new Web-based email service,Windows Live Hotmail, and while it improves over previous Microsoft Web-based mail, it’s still not as good as Gmail.
Windows Live Hotmail is certainly prettier than Gmail. It looks more like a PC-based mail client than a Web-based service. Gmail, by contrast, is about as plain as it gets.
But when you get past the nice-looking interface, Windows Live Hotmail is far inferior to Gmail. Gmail, for example, can be turned into a kind of universal email center. It can check your POP 3-based email accounts, and you can read that POP 3 email right inside Gmail.
Windows Live Hotmail can’t do that.
You can also turn Gmail into a POP 3 account, so that you can use it with any email client, just like any other POP 3 account.
Again, Windows Live Hotmail can’t do that. There’s going to be some kind of connector to integrate it with Outlook. And a new client will replace Outlook Express and the Windows Vista Mail client that will integrate with Windows Live Hotmail. But if you have any other email client, you’re out of luck.
Both Windows Live Hotmail and Gmail are free, so I’ll continue to use both. But if Microsoft wants to beat out Google for the best Web-based mail service, it’s still got a way to go.