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Microsoft Improves Hotmail, Office Web Apps

Microsoft made a bunch of announcements today around its consumer-oriented online services.


Hotmail gets the following updates:

Some [of the new features] were planned, like push email, calendar, and contacts through Exchange ActiveSync, but others were the results of feedback we received and acted on during the rollout.

Some of the feedback we’ve addressed with updates in the last few weeks include the way you can view message source (right-click in the Inbox is back!), an easier reply action in threaded conversations, and more visible signout for the integrated Messenger on the web.

Track packages referenced in your email from Hotmail

Emails that include a package tracking number will now light up in Hotmail thanks to ActiveViews, which automatically recognize the number and display the real time shipping status above the email, saving you a trip to the shipper’s website. The US Postal Service is fully supported, and with this new release, our new partner FedEx will be as well, with light versions for DHL and UPS that provide a link to the shipper’s website instead of full shipping details inside the email.

Chat with Facebook friends in Hotmail

We recently announced that Messenger would let you chat with your Facebook friends. We released this into the beta of our Messenger app for your PC a few weeks ago, and last week we added this into Messenger on your iPhone. We’re now adding this ability to chat with Facebook friends into Hotmail, making it easier for the 250 million Hotmail users that also use Facebook to stay in touch with those friends. Initially, this will be available in the US, UK, France, Brazil, Germany, and Russia, and we will continue to expand this offering to more regions over time.

Share photos more easily with expanded coverage and new features

Email is the most popular place to share photos, with 1.5 billion pictures shared each month on Hotmail alone. But attachment size limits have long made the process cumbersome. Over the summer, Hotmail became the first service to let you to send hundreds of large photos per email, up to 10 GB of photos per email, by sharing them as a new photo album on SkyDrive. Today, this option is only available in the US, but with this release, we are rolling it out worldwide.

View more videos from inside Hotmail

Earlier this summer we helped people save time by viewing Hulu and YouTube videos within any email containing a link to content on those sites. With this release we’re supporting videos from two more fantastic partner sites, Dailymotion and

Organize and find important email with Subfolders

If you like to use folders to organize your important emails and find them more quickly later, you have something in common with nearly 100 million other Hotmail “filers”. The new Hotmail lets you create folders inside of folders to more precisely manage your email, making it easier to quickly find an important message you’ve filed away.

Office Web Apps

Microsoft's ever-improving online office productivity suite gets a number of new features as well:

Jump right in to the Office app you love

While using the Office Web Apps has been popular, we’ve heard from you that you often want to take advantage of the full power of Office on your desktop. We’ve made this easier than ever before – you’ll now see “Open in [Office app]” when you’re browsing your files, letting you jump in quickly.

Embed Excel and PowerPoint documents on your blog or website

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a great PowerPoint presentation or Excel chart worth? You can now embed public PowerPoint presentations and Excel workbooks on your blog or website. When you embed presentations, people can also view your presentation in full screen mode with all of your animations and transitions.

View Word, PowerPoint and now Excel docs on your phone

Earlier this summer we launched the ability to browse and view your Word and PowerPoint documents on your mobile phone. We’ve now added Excel workbooks to that list, so you can view those charts and tables while on the go, wherever you are.

Finally, we’re making Office on the web available to people in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Russia and Australia, in addition to the markets we already support. (Also, people who are using Office 2010 get access immediately, regardless of where they are.)

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