What a pleasant surprise I got when I went to http://mail.live.com
The new Windows Live Hotmail is fast. I didn’t even see the spinning indicator, it just loaded. I was presented with a introductory screen that informed me about the changes to expect.
The interface is bright and light with aesthetically soothing cloud and sky theme which I believe contributes to the fast load speeds. The old vapour theme still shows in the banner, but I believe it will change over time as its still early days. Live Hotmail wave 3 also supports the same theme colors as Windows Live Messenger 9 but, with fast load speeds, I hope this theme stays, especially for me since I use a cellular modem a lot. I just want to get to my inbox and check my mail. Hotmail is definitely beating Yahoo! Mail to the punch, it loads fast, well integrated with various services such as Calendar, Spaces and your personal portal.
New Windows Live Mail inbox
As you can see, there has been some rearrangement, most notable is the Search box now integrated into the Windows Live Hotmail header. The Web Search field is now separated and integrated into the banner, but I think this is a very good idea. In previous versions, Hotmail and other services such as Windows Live Spaces used the same search field which made search confusing and just awkward. I hope Microsoft applies this same approach to Live Spaces and make searching within a persons Space much easier for entries made by the author.
Uniformed theme support with Windows Live Messenger 9
Hope fully, the Windows Live Team makes it possible for themes to apply across services, to make experiences more manageable while still customizable depending on the users taste. There is of course lots of integration across Live Services especially Calendar integration with the desktop fat client Windows Live Mail which will be replacing Windows Mail with the release of Windows 7. I will be giving updates as I start using this new version of the service.