MSN Hotmail is an oldie. It’s been around forever and it seems everybody once in their lifetime has used it. Most people have a love-hate relationship so I was first thinking I should simply skip this review but then I realized that Hotmail has really evolved the last couple of years.

Maybe one of the most interesting features is the possibility to have your own domain hosted on Hotmail’s servers so no need for @hotmail.com. Check out Windows Live Custom Domains for more info.

You have all the features you need, E-mail, Calendar, To-do, Contacts and notes. The interface is very Microsoft:ish so if you like that, you feel right at home. I wouldn’t say the interface is the most modern one out there since it’s still point-and-click interface with few new stuff such as drag’n’drop.

E-mail

Managing your emails is easy. When writing, you can get addresses from your contacts, there’s a spell checker and you can enable a rich-text editor. You can create different folders to organize your emails.

There’s a few features I miss and that’s message filters to automatically move certain mail to certain folders.

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Calendar

Also very basic. Click new and off you go. You can send invitations by email (and when they accept this will be shown), you can have notes to each appointment, categorise them (including creating your own) and recurrence. You have the possibility to share your calendar in several ways – to other Passport members, to everyone and also on what level they can see the calendar. You can view the calendar by day, week, month or year. Still I miss the simple usability as you have in other calendars. It’s very “point-and-click” and this doesn’t feel very effective and I can’t find a way to search my calendar.

The Calendar has all the functions you can think of. If you have used Outlook calendar, you’ll find most of the options here aswell but still, the interface needs some modernization.

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To-do

Tasks is share the same categories as the calendar. Reminders can be sent via e-mail and MSN. When listing the tasks you can group them in different ways such as Staus, Priority, Category etc. Compared to Outlook I miss a bunch of stuff since I use Tasks for many many things. I’ve used Tasks for many years and have over 1000 tasks in my Outlook. For example you cannot filter the view of the list in specific ways which I use often. The notes are just notes (text). I want to include graphics, screenshots, files etc.

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Contacts

In Contacts you can create contacts and groups, and att contacts to groups. When adding contacts you can add much information about the users but I miss the way to categorise them (for example Personal and Work). When you view them you can just choose List View or Card View – no easy way to search and since there’s no way to categorise, you cannot group by that either. Sending an email to one or several contacts is easy.

Still – much point and click which feels old and ineffective but still, it does the job!

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Notes

Not much to say. Text-only notes and you can assign them a category. When you view them you can sort by category (not group though) and Last Modified.

Conclusions

So, hotmail really does offer all the stuff that I was looking for. It even enables me to use my own domain name using Windows Live Custom Domains. Yes – it does offer me all the features that I need but I miss so much. Most of the features just have the basic functionality compared to Outlook. And it feels like the look’n’feel is a couple of years old. Where’s that drag’n’drop? Dynamic Views? Web 2.0? Ajax-stuff and so on.. I guess they have to maintain support for older browsers but the Hotmail experience is just dull and boring compared to the other services out there.