Windows Live Mail Desktop - what's the point?

, posted: 10-Sep-2006 16:51

A further addition to Microsoft's Windows Live range of products is the awkwardly-named Windows Live Mail Desktop client, now in public beta. It is as the name implies a desktop client with which you can access Internet email from a variety of servers; POP3, IMAP, and HTTP are supported.

This means that apart from your own or your ISP's mail server, you can access Hotmail, sorry Windows Live Mail I mean (WLDM only works with the latter) as well as Gmail, Yahoo etc. That's a nice feature, to be able to have all your webmail accounts in one single application. Oddly enough though, WLMD refers to Windows Live Mail still as MSN, but it is a beta so...

Windows Live Mail Desktop

Setting up and using WLMD is similar to Outlook Express, but with some additions as well as omissions. WLMD integrates with Windows Live Messenger of course, and picks up your contacts from there (and Outlook Express). WLMD becomes the default mail application for Windows Live Messenger in fact, and launches when you click on the envelope icon. There is no way to change this and select the web browser interface to Windows Live Mail instead.

It also gets the RSS feeds from your Messenger contacts' Windows Live Spaces (can you see the pattern here?) and adds them automatically if you so desire. You also get the default Microsoft RSS feeds, and anything you have added to IE7.

The WLMD RSS reader seems pretty rudimentary though, and doesn't display images and embedded objects in the feed.

There is a junk mail filter that lets you block senders or sender domains - similar to Hotmail - but WLMD doesn't seem to have the smarts of Windows Live Mail or Gmail when it comes to automatically filtering out spam.

Furthermore, if you want to tag a bunch of messages as spam, you can't select them all and mark the lot as junk mail. Instead, you have to do it one by one.

WLMD also integrates with the Hotmail/MSN calendar, which you can share with people if you want, and you can start video conversations if you have webcam, or call using the MSN Internet phone service.

A threaded view of messages would've been nice, but WLMD doesn't appear to have that. What it does have however is one big ad panel to the right. You can't turn this off or make it smaller, and while I understand Microsoft needs to make money, the huge flashing ads are distracting and annoying.

So where's the compelling reason to start using WLMD? Well, I can't think of one unfortunately. It'd possibly be that you can easily hook up various webmail services with it. However, the actual WLMD client isn't good enough to make me stop using Gmail's web interface, or for that matter, Thunderbird as a standalone mail app.

Am I missing something here, or has Microsoft released a Live app that nobody needs?


Other related posts:
Fighting with Windows 8
The Windows Phone 7.5 bouncing tiles bug
Windows Live Essentials betas seem good, but oh so flaky

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