Microsoft is tweaking both Office Web Apps and Hotmail, introducing new features designed to attract and retain users who would otherwise choose similar applications from Yahoo and Google.
Microsoft is tweaking Office Web Apps and Hotmail, seeking to make further inroads
in the consumer cloud space.
Updates to Hotmail include Facebook Chat integration, the ability to track
packages within an e-mail without needing to navigate to the shipper's Website,
a new e-mail attachment size of 25MB, support for viewing Dailymotion and
Justin.tv videos from within an e-mail, and subfolders for more precise mail
In addition to those updates, Microsoft has engaged in a rolling series of
tweaks to Hotmail, much of it in response to feedback. "A few months ago,
we released a reinvented Windows Live
Hotmail designed around what people said they wanted," Dick Craddock,
group program manager for Windows Live Hotmail, posted Sept. 23 on The
Windows Blog. "We put a lot of time and effort into careful planning,
but we also recognize that with any release, we can improve, so we do our best
to listen closely and respond actively."
Microsoft is also rolling out worldwide Hotmail's ability to share 10GB of
photos via SkyDrive. As with the other updates, however, it may take some time
to reach all users.
"During the rollout, we want everything to go smoothly as new features
are added," Craddock wrote, "so we will start by upgrading a small
percentage of our accounts, and as the kinks are worked out, quickly roll the
features out to everyone. This process will take a few weeks."
Microsoft also made updates to Office Web Apps, its cloud-based suite of
productivity applications meant to compete with similar offerings from Google.
In addition to rolling out Web Apps in seven more countries, the platform now
allows users to embed Excel and PowerPoint documents in a blog or Website, open
a Web-based document in desktop-based Office and view Excel documents on one's
"Earlier this summer we launched the ability to browse and view your
Word and PowerPoint documents on your
mobile phone," Jason Moore, principal lead program manager for Windows
Live SkyDrive, wrote Sept. 23 on The Windows Blog.
"We've now added Excel workbooks to that list, so you can view those
charts and tables while on the go, wherever you are." In addition,
Microsoft apparently addressed some bugs interfering with the platform's
Thanks to Microsoft's
summer updates to Hotmail, users can now open Office documents sent as an
attachment in any browser-even if their PCs don't have Office installed. That
feature integrates Hotmail, SkyDrive and Office Web Apps.
Microsoft faces competition from Google and Yahoo in the arenas of e-mail
and Web applications.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.