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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Web-Based Email -- Hotmail

AIM Mail, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and even Comcast.net Mail -- some are better for business, some for consumers, and all are quite useful.

For many of us, web-based e-mail services are a useful adjunct to our home inbox, allowing us to check e-mail while traveling and to privately communicate outside of corporate messaging. But a review of the latest web mail services shows that you can now consider foregoing desktop programs without compromising your communications flow.

Hotmail has the best integration of features for business users, but it is hindered by a lack of storage space and inferior spam blocking.

Workgroups can use Hotmail's calendar to share schedules and set different permission levels for each person. The intuitive interface simplifies setting reminders, inviting peers to meetings and managing your to do list. MSN Premium subscribers ($9.99 per month) can also synchronize their calendars and contacts with handheld devices. (continued...)

Hotmail has the most flexibility in presenting contact information, and the search function can grow your contact database by scanning past e-mails. Although Hotmail supports importing contact files created by Outlook and Outlook Express, I could not successfully load either of two Outlook-created .CSV files that had worked fine with the other programs tested.

Despite my best efforts to flag spam as junk mail, about 40 percent of the unwanted solicitations slip by Hotmail's enhanced filter. Hotmail offers an 'exclusive' filter that blocks everyone who is not on your contact list, but that could prevent useful e-mails too.

Hotmail's tools for managing your inbox compare well with desktop e-mail programs, enabling you to create custom views and filters. The find function lets you quickly track down important messages based on the subject line, body text or folder location.

While Hotmail's 250 megabytes of e-mail storage seemed like a lot of space just a few years ago, it isn't sufficient for folks like me who frequently receive PDF and image attachments and don't have the bandwidth to save them separately.

Source: InformationWeek

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