I’ve been using the Windows Live Mail beta for quite a long time, and really find it a big disappointment. After Google released Gmail, and Microsoft started touting the Hotmail replacement, I was really expecting something better.
One of the things I was really hoping Microsoft would get rid of, is the big annoying banner at the top of the page. When reading email, the last thing I want to see is a big flashing banner.
Just look at how intrusive this is:
Although it’s been out a while, I only just found out about Windows Live Mail Desktop and promptly installed it. I’ve got a couple of Hotmail accounts, though these are only used for small amounts of unimportant email. The main reason for installing WLMD, is because using Windows Live Hotmail in Internet Explorer completely sucks.
The application isn’t bad, though it’s not exactly great either. It’s still got the awkward Hotmail user interface. But, the two things which are important to me is the multiple account support, and the lack of banner adverts. Both these requirements are satisfied. It certainly feels a lot more lightweight than using WLM from within Internet Explorer.
Having said that, the WLM experience is a lot better in Firefox + AdBlock, than Internet Explorer. This removes the big annoying banner advert, which has a significant impact on usability. I don’t know what Microsoft were thinking allowing banners like the one in the screenshots above, where it actively interferes with the application.
Unfortunately, Messenger forces uses to use Internet Explorer rather than the default browser. However, you can get around this by using the StuffPlug Extension, though this only works with Windows Live Messenger 8.1. This offers lots of additional useful functionality, including the option to have Messenger use the default browser for accessing email.
I’d like to see Google release something like this for Gmail. At the moment, they have nothing for managing multiple Gmail accounts, though this can be done using third party utilities like GAlert and the Firefox Gmail Manager extension.
In an ideal world, there would be an application which would replace WLMD, GAlert, and the Gmail Extension. It would allow users to view email from WLM, Gmail and others all through one application. It would sit in the system tray, checking email in the background. My search for such an application continues…
[tags]windows live mail desktop, windows live hotmail, microsoft, google, gmail, email[/tags]