Microsoft to overhaul Hotmail

The company promises a reinvention of the webmail service

Microsoft will unveil next month a major revamping of its Hotmail webmail service, with upgrades across the board, including in areas like spam, security and performance.

"We listened. We learned. We reinvented Hotmail from the ground up," reads an invitation sent on Friday to journalists for press events to be held on Oct. 3 simultaneously in New York and San Francisco.

"Forget everything you thought you knew about Hotmail. Just don't forget this date," reads the invitation.

Hotmail's two main competitors are Google's Gmail and Yahoo Mail. The last time the consumer webmail market got a competitive jolt was in 2004, when Google surprised the world with Gmail and its then-unprecedented amount of email storage.

At that point, innovation in webmail services had stagnated for years but Gmail shook Microsoft, Yahoo and other webmail providers like AOL out of their comfort zone, as they quickly responded by increasing the size of their email inboxes.

Gmail also offered improvements in other areas, most notably with its superior inbox search functionality and with its consolidation of email exchanges into threaded "conversations" in which all replies are grouped within the original message.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft is able to deliver in its new version of Hotmail innovations that rock the market and force its competitors to adapt their products.

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