As of tonight, every one of Microsoft Hotmail’s 350 million users now has access to the newest version of the webmail service. And you know what? It looks great. Early adopter snobs have long mocked anyone still using Hotmail, but the service has three times as many people using it as Twitter does (100m+). Why does that matter? Because Hotmail deserves some more respect when it innovates and does things well.
It looks really good these days, too. It’s fast, it’s really clean looking, it has cool features that Gmail doesn’t have. It’s worth a look. Your friends might make fun of you if they find out you’re using Hotmail, but who really needs friends like that, anyway?
What does the new Hotmail offer? According to an announcement tonight by Mike Schackwitz on the Inside Windows Live blog, the biggest changes in the new version are speed, performance, one-click filtering and “active views” (inline display of multimedia like photos and videos).
I’m impressed by the inbox links to view emails that contain documents or links to documents, a filter for just messages from your trusted content and a filter that automatically pulls aside maintenance messages from social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The integration of Microsoft’s online document creation and collaboration tools are really nice too. It’s more tightly integrated that Gmail and Google Docs are.
Ads? There are more ads per page in Gmail than in Hotmail, though it’s text ads vs graphic ads. You know what else looks quite good? Hotmail on an iPhone. I’m not kidding. It looks really nice. There’s a drop down button next to every email in your mobile web inbox that lets you preview the first 3 lines of an email.
I just thought I’d let you know. 350 million people, that’s 70% as many as use Facebook you’ll note, now have access to a newer, faster, more powerful version of their webmail service.