In November 2007 Microsoft launched a new e-mail client called Windows Live Mail. This client is one of the tools included in the Windows Live set of services and software products. Windows Live Mail is the successor of both Outlook Express and Windows Mail. This means that in the future it will be the only supported free e-mail client, and all development work going forward will only be on Windows Live Mail. For this reason, you might consider going to the download page and start using it.
But, before you do that, let’s see what novelties Windows Live Mail has to offer.
The first thing you will notice is its new and fresh look. For an e-mail client, Windows Live Mail has a pretty slick look and integrates very well with both Windows Vista and Windows Live.
If you don’t like the default look or you get bored with it, you can easily change it at anytime and have Windows Live Mail look the way you want to. It takes only two clicks to do it.
Another positive thing about this aspect is the fact that users can easily change layouts and use the one that best suits their needs. The interface is very minimalistic: you have a small number of buttons which cover only the basic actions and configuration options. Just like in the latest version of Windows Explorer, the menus are hidden by default. To activate them you will have to check the ‘Show all menus’ as shown in the screenshot below.
Configuring Windows Live Mail is very easy, especially if you have worked with Windows Mail or Outlook Express. Most of the configuration options are found in the same menus, so no surprises there.
One feature that was appreciated by our readers in Outlook Express is the possibility to work with multiple e-mail identities. Just like Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail does not offer this feature. All you can do is import or delete existing identities.
Aside from its new interface, Windows Live Mail has several new features, which are not present in Windows Mail. The most notable are:
- Easy e-mail configuration – if you use Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo Mail Plus! (paid service) you no longer need to know the addresses of the e-mail servers, ports and so on. Just type your e-mail address, password, display name and Windows Live Mail will make all the additional configuration for you. Read our guide on how to configure Windows Live Mail to connect to Windows Live Hotmail and MSN Mail and see how it is;
- Separate inbox folders for different POP accounts – if you work with multiple e-mail accounts you will have separate folders for each of them. This can also help users who loved the e-mail identities feature;
- RSS Feeds – you can easily subscribe to your favorite RSS feeds and read them directly from your inbox;
- Synchronization with Windows Live Contacts – Windows Live Contacts is integrated with Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces to provide users access to their contact’s profiles and information. This means that you will be able to access the same contacts list when your work on your PC or when you access your Windows Live Hotmail from the web;
- Better picture/photo messaging – when sending pictures via e-mail you can add frames or borders to them, change their size and layout or even edit them;
- Emoticons and Inline spell checking – the spell checking is always a welcome feature. The available emoticons are the ones you know from Windows Live Messenger. Even though they are not very impressive, they sure are a nice new feature.
As a downside, I have noticed that some security solutions, including version 7 of Kaspersky Internet Security, do not detect Windows Live Mail as an e-mail client and do not install the spam filters; this means that the sent and received e-mail messages are not being scanned. I’m sure this will get fixed with future updates but until then it can be quite a problem if you are not very familiar with security on your computer.
After working for a while with Windows Live Mail, I must say it is pretty fast and easy to use. I’m sure many of you won’t have a hard time learning how to use it. Except the security problem I’ve mentioned, Windows Live Mail has no other major weaknesses. Even though the new features are not revolutionary, they certainly build up and create a pretty solid e-mail client which will please many users.