Microsoft Updates Windows Live Hotmail

Microsoft has made a minor update to Windows Live Hotmail, the first since it launched the new service on May 7. Redmond started making the update available to customers this week in a rollout that is expected to take several weeks.

Windows Live Hotmail is the successor to MSN Hotmail. It was under development for more than two years and had its tires kicked by some 20 million beta testers globally.

Among the new features offered in this latest update are increased storage to 5GB for free accounts and 10GB for subscription accounts, up from the 2GB and 5GB respective limits that were in place previously.

Also included is enhanced "family safety" functionality, which lets parents manage the contacts their kids can interact with by e-mail. It also gives them the option of preventing their children from logging into their Hotmail accounts entirely.

"This list of managed contacts will also apply to Spaces and Messenger. Also, if a child's parents are using family safety to manage their contacts, then the child will only be able to access the classic version of Hotmail," a Microsoft spokesperson told me.

Also included in the update is enhanced spam protection, which lets users report that a message is not "junk" and allows them to report phishing scams with one click.

There is also a new look and feel to the header and user interface as part of the next generation of Windows Live services.

Hotmail users will now also be able to accept, tentatively accept or decline meeting requests sent from Outlook accounts.

A new tool known as TrueSwitch is also included that lets users copy e-mail and addresses from their other e-mail accounts into a Windows Live Hotmail account, while another new tool lets users remove duplicated names from their contact lists.

In addition, the Microsoft Office Outlook Connector, which connects Hotmail to Outlook accounts, is now no longer a beta and is available to customers.

"We will continue to evolve the service in the coming months, adding more features and integration points with other Windows online services," the spokesperson said.